Over the weekend, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes music director Kazuhiro “MEEBEE” Abo released a special track in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. All proceeds from sales of the song are going toward “causes aiming to help black people” according to its official Bandcamp page.
The dreamy “Dear Friends” features production by Abo and verses from Japanese rapper Devin and MASTER and Mystic Elder Maikis of hip-hop duo Okumura. It speaks on issues of discrimination and police brutality that are a daily reality for Black people and other people of colour in the United States and Japan but also offers a message of unity and hope in collective action. MASTER in particular lays things out pretty clearly in the opening verse, saying:
Tough wakin up and stayin positive
The cops assaultin us then say they don’t know what the problem is
Only got our attention once these niggas started robbin shit
And it’s gon be the same, long as you shavin our populace
We simply wanted peace, wanted to live free
Wanted to live with purpose, as human as we could be
The ops in charge, said that was too much to see.
Then started gunnin my brothas and sistas, now and you me.
Can’t even go outside without bein red dotted.
On any given day, you could get yo head spotted.
They way to quick to pull you run you get dead shotted.
Do what you can to fight but sure that yo bread slotted.
Abo isn’t the track’s only connection to the works of Goichi Suda, also known as Suda51. Okamura released an excellent Killer7-inspired beat tape back in February and Devin was one of the featured vocalists on Travis Strikes Again’s catchy Silver Face boss theme.
The world is bleak. People are being victimised and murdered simply for the colour of their skin. Attempts to hold those in power accountable are met with further brutality. Apart from being a great song, “Dear Friends” is also an important reminder that this struggle is global. Only by sticking together and raising our voices as one can we enact meaningful change.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.