Though Jay Z has delivered guest verses from time to time since his 2013 album Magna Carta Holy Grail — including DJ Khaled single "I Got the Keys" and the remix to Fat Joe and Remy Ma's "All the Way Up" in recent months -- he hadn't released a solo single in that span. He's now come out of that hibernation, inspired by this week's shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
"I made this song awhile ago, I never got to finish it," Hov wrote on Tidal, where he released the song, "Spiritual."
"Punch (TDE) told me I should drop it when Mike Brown died, sadly I told him ‘this issue will always be relevant,’" he continued. "I’m hurt that I knew his death wouldn’t be the last ...
"Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to police brutality."
On the song, he continues with those themes of despair and desperation. He raps, "I am not poison / No, I am not poison / Just a boy from the hood that / Got my hands in the air / In despair / Don't shoot / I just wanna do good."
In the second verse, his rawness continues:
"This is tougher than any gun that I raised / Any crack that I blazed / That was nothin' / Peeling back the layers, uncovering / Scars that never healed, I never kept it this real"
Hov's meditation on the recent events came just hours after his wife, Beyoncé, posted a statement on her website, and then dedicated a performance of "Freedom" to Sterling and Castile. In her statement, she wrote, "It is up to us to take a stand and demand that they ‘stop killing us,'" later imploring her fans to contact their local legislators.
Sterling and Castile were killed by police officers in separate incidents this week. The 37-year-old Sterling was shot by police while selling CDs outside of a store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in an altercation that was captured on video. Similarly, the aftermath of the shooting death of 32-year-old Castile, too, was captured on video, by his fiancée, Diamond Reynolds, after the two were driving and pulled over while in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
Read Jay Z's full statement below.