Jorja Smith, 'By Any Means': Protest Music In 2020 : We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020 This song, part of our 'We Insist' timeline of 2020's noteworthy protest music, was released July 30.
NPR logo Jorja Smith Finds Strength In Numbers In 'By Any Means'

Jorja Smith Finds Strength In Numbers In 'By Any Means'

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Four years ago, I was, thankfully, challenged to think more globally about Black Lives Matter. This was while on assignment covering the London Jazz Festival, just days following the election of our current president. During a conversation with my friend Nadia Gasper, a London-based writer and story consultant, she rightly pointed out that much of the then-recent galvanization and discourse around racial inequality in the United States had overlooked the rampant struggles for Blacks living elsewhere, namely in England. Jorja Smith puts a "face" to that very issue in the accompanying video for "By Any Means," rather highlighting the many faces of color who comprise the U.K.

The British singer-songwriter renders an evocative, all-encompassing anthem of empowerment, resilience and fortitude, felt by Black people everywhere. Released as the lead single from the forthcoming Reprise initiative that features songs curated by Roc Nation, Smith joins a host of artists lending their talents in solidarity with protestors and organizers worldwide, fighting for those who continue to face discrimination and brutality.

Inspired by the words of Malcolm X in a speech he delivered during the last year of his life, Smith draws out the revolutionary spirit at the onset of "By Any Means," challenging the many institutions and legacies designed to oppress and marginalize an entire people. With sparse production of rhythm and backing vocal effects, as the tune shifts mid-tempo, Smith finds strength in numbers, emboldened and aware that all are needed in this collective battle: "I take pride in the things that we've done / Side by side in the revolution / Won't stay silent for things that I love / 'Cause we know dem nuh care about us."