The Songs of the Summer Are Also the Soundtrack of the Uprising

The competitors for 2020's song of the summer come straight from the protestors fighting for racial justice across the country.
Alex Zaragoza
Brooklyn, US
June 8, 2020, 7:09pm
Image from iOS
Credit: Alex Zaragoza

Well, well, well. It appears summertime has arrived, judging by our sweaty thighs sliding around leather surfaces and our 130% uptick in hot dog consumption. It really snuck up on us, considering our minds have been occupied first by the deadly pandemic currently plaguing the globe and forcing us all into self-isolation—oh! And then by a massive and, dare I say beautiful, sociopolitical uprising taking over all 50 states (along with several other countries).

As with any summer, an anthem is needed to soundtrack the sweltering days and nights. But, this being summer 2020—where America is in the throes of a fiery reckoning against systemic racism, police brutality, and the unrelenting injustices that have been committed against Black people for centuries—that anthem simply needs to go harder than any other anthem has ever gone.

While pop stars like Katy Perry, LMFAO, and Carly Rae Jepsen have dominated summers past, and artists like cupcakKe, Dre, Nothing, Run the Jewels, and Gunna have released new music to raise funds for racial justice causes, this year's undisputed competitors in the race for song of summer come straight from the protestors on the frontlines of our country's revolt against racism and fascism, who have already come through with some absolute bangers.


Which one will take the crown? Here are your choices:

Remix to "You About to Lose Yo' Job" by Johnniqua Charles

The clear frontrunner in the 'song of the summer' race is iMarkkeyz x DJ Suede's remix of an impossibly catchy song seemingly made up on the spot by Johnniqua Charles, who was being detained by police officers and captured in a now-viral video. According to TMZ, the video was shot by a security guard in Dillon, SC, back in February, but its messaging is pertinent to our current moment. Charles responded to an officer putting her in handcuffs and detaining her by singing the impromptu lyrics that have become an anthem: "You about to lose yo' job (Get this dance!) / You about to lose yo' job / ‘cause you are detaining me / for nothing." Her songwriting prowess is phenomenal, especially considering she was able to compose this slapper while under duress. In the hands of iMarkkeyz—who gave us the incredible Cardi B Coronavirus PSA remix—and DJ Suede, her words of protestation against one cop are now a sick chorale to which protestors can rally and body roll while calling for police abolition. And simply, fuck yeah. Buzzfeed News was tracked down Charles and spoke to her about her viral fame. A GoFundMe has been set up for Charles by her sister Andrea.

"Suck My Dick And Choke On It. I Yield My Time. Fuck You!" By Unknown Town Hall Caller

During a virtual town hall meeting held over Zoom, the Los Angeles Police Commission featuring special guest disgraced LAPD Chief Michel Moore were treated to an enthralling barrage of anger from Angelenos, including one caller who ended his one-minute time slot to offer input with the now-iconic instructions "Suck my dick and choke on it. I yield my time. Fuck you!" At Noisey, we often ask "Is It Music?" and in this case, the verdict is in: Yes. This song doesn't need a backing beat or even a traditional melody to slap hard, and it's worthy of being played at high volume.

"Changes" by 2Pac, as performed by incredibly moving protestors

If a song came out more than 20 years ago, can it still be a song of the summer? We think so. Another video surfaced late last week of protestors joyously rapping and dancing along with 2Pac's 1998 single, in which he expounds upon the racism, police brutality, and poverty that Black people have faced in America, as relevant at the time of its release as it is today. Sung by protestors during this moment, it becomes a moving call for revolution. It's impossible to watch and listen without welling up in tears and erupting in goosebumps, and therefore a worthy candidate in the song of summer race.

"A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton as interpreted by @10kchase

Back in 2002 when Vanessa Carlton released "A Thousand Miles," her smash hit that has resurfaced as a meme favorite, she couldn't have anticipated it would be used as a hilarious protest song warbled out in the faces of NYPD officers. And yet, here we are thanks to Instagram user @10kchase, who bravely took Carlton's original words and remixed them to include the line "Look at the dicksuckers." Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo!

"Move Bitch" by Ludacris, as sung by a large crowd of protesters

Dirty South icon and three-time Grammy Award winner Ludacris really gave the world a gift when he released "Move Bitch," also in 2002. Whether you're stuck in traffic, have a slow-ass walker blocking the sidewalk in front of you, or are a large crowd of protestors attempting to get off the Manhattan Bridge but being blocked by NYPD, it just works! While Luda is a mainstay of every summer backyard kickback, "Move Bitch" is the perfect anthem to soundtrack the many instances of NYPD blockading that have occurred and will likely keep occurring as people continue to protest.

"No Justice, No Peace (Fuck These Racist Ass Police)" Techno Version by Detroit protestors

Marchers at a Detroit Black Lives Matter protest took techno classic “Line Five” by Bruno Furlan and gave it a 2020 remix, with the captain of one DIY float singing, "No justice, no peace / Fuck these racist ass police" over their megaphone. The roots of techno music are political, too, deeply tied to Black struggle and protest, making this the perfect song of summer 2020. The fact that this remix is also extremely danceable and could turn a moment of rage against an oppressive system into an impromptu rave only makes it more worthy of endless play this year.

Which of these bangers will officially be the song of summer 2020, and effectively the anthem of the uprising? It's up to you. And as you listen, you can also learn about how the music industry fails Black people; find out ways you can protest racial injustice in the music industry; and donate to National Bail Out, Black Lives Matter, organizations in your hometown that support Black and brown communities, and other racial justice organizations.

Update: A previous version of this story referred to Johnniqua Charles as an "unidentified Black woman." Now that her identity has been uncovered by Buzzfeed News, we have updated the story. Again, this is the GoFundMe set up for Charles.

Alex Zaragoza is a senior staff writer at VICE. You can follow her on Twitter.