Rest in Peace Jordan Davis. Rest in Peace Eric Garner. Rest in Peace Michael Brown. Rest in Peace Trayvon Martin. Rest in Peace to the countless amount of sons, brothers, and fathers who have been victims of the systematic oppression of black males through police brutality in the United States.
“I’m in denial” J. Cole raps, as he is in disbelief of the so-blatant racism continuously occurring throughout America today, specifically in reference to the shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer from Ferguson, Alabama. The race of the police officer versus the victim who was shot is relevant in understanding the power dynamic society has constructed in support of white supremacy and black inferiority throughout history.
In the song, Cole repeatedly declares, “all we wanna do is take the chains off…” alluding to the similarities between present-day America and 17th, 18th and 19th century America where people were kidnapped from Africa, forcefully shipped to the American colonies and exploited as workers. Trapped in chains. “All we wanna do is take the chains off”.