The three-time Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness have remained a beacon of music and hope in the Black community. They’ve made both local and international impact for the past five decades.
The group’s new hit single “Sick & Tired” featuring St. Paul’s High School For Recording Arts (HSRA) was released June 19. The premiere of the song’s music video followed on June 26 under the direction of national recording artist and Sounds’ member Jamecia Bennet, making her directorial debut.
With aesthetics that allude to the Black Panther Party, the music video pays homage to the Civil Rights Movement that is experiencing not so much a rebirth, but a continuation right here in Minneapolis.
Written and produced by Gary D. Hines, music director and producer for the group, “Sick & Tired” is a direct response to the murder of George Floyd and the continued injustice, inequality and inhumanity that presides over the nation.
On May 25, the world lost 46-year-old Floyd by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. In response to this incident was a global uproar sparking from the Twin Cities and spreading to every corner of the globe, marking the largest Civil Rights Movement in history. In the words of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, we are, “Sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
“Minneapolis is just the center of the planet right now and it has been for the past two weeks,” Hines told the MSR. The tone of the song “Sick & Tired,” while kicking a familiar upbeat Minneapolis sound, is not unabashed in its message calling for reform. “We’ve been receiving countless inquiries for collaboration on ‘Let’s Hold Hands’ songs but no,” said Hines. “The kumbaya songs are actually a part of the problem,” he said. “This is about the Movement, about being an anthem.”
As witnessed through the various protests around the world, the narrative of the people’s response has become intolerant of the blatant and systematic injustice that Black and Brown people in America continue to suffer.
An urgency and an energy has mobilized people in a new way. “We witnessed a lynching in real time and saw it over and over and over again,” said Hines. “Anything that comes from [the Sounds] has to incorporate that outrage—that righteous indignation. You forget how angry Jesus got when they desecrated the temple.”
For Hines, the music is much greater than the industry itself. This music is a vessel of the truth, change and community that is direly needed in the world today. “We need to take a gut wrenching look at ourselves—I mean America—and fully and finally deal with systematic injustice, systemic racism [and] White supremacy. It’s in the very fabric of this country,” he said.
Hines reminds us of how music has always informed revolution in America. “Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, made “Dr. Feel Good,” but she also made “To Be Young Gifted and Black,” and “Respect.” The whole Black Power Movement made [“Respect”] a political statement…James Brown had “I Feel Good” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” but of course he had the anthem of the Black Power Movement, “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud).”
Hines emphasized the importance and responsibility of music during this time, and shared words of advice to artists, including the younger generation of creatives: “Have your party music but never disassociate yourself from the Movement, from the condition of the people.”
Find the Sounds of Blackness new single “Sick and Tired” on all major music platforms. For more info, visit www.soundsofblackness.org.