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“All we wanna do is take the chains off/ All we wanna do is break the chains off,” J. Cole chants on “Be Free,” a song he penned in tribute to slain Ferguson, Mo. teen Michael Brown.

The Dreamville MC expressed his frustrations with the senseless killings of Black men on August 13 via Twitter. “STOP F*CKIN KILLIN US,” he wrote. But hardly 140 characters were enough for Cole to fully elaborate his feelings on a scenario that Black America knows all too well.

That changes with this track. A stripped down instrumental draws creates a sonic atmosphere where Cole’s lyrics take greater precedent. The North Carolina wordsmith reiterates that “All we wanna do is be free,” a reference to modern day slavery. His voice is hardened with distressed and at times sounds like an instrument in itself.

Hear J. Cole’s passionate display of lyricism on “Be Free.”

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