“Everyday they look at you a target.”
The Mary J. Blige cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘American Skin (41 Shots)’ featuring Kendrick Lamar has now surfaced, a few weeks after the singer performed it for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during an interview for her Beats 1 show, The 411.
Blige interviewed Clinton in September and took the opportunity to sing ‘American Skin (41 Shots)’ to the candidate, telling the Associated Press, “the lyrics resonated with me so deeply and so heavily because of all the shootings and police brutality and I never got a chance to say anything … the only way I can get that reaction from (Hillary) is to sing it.”
The song’s chorus, “Is it a gun, is it a knife / Is it a wallet, this is your life,” as well as its second verse, about a mother telling her child to “always be polite” to officers, “never run away” and “keep your hands in sight,” remain sadly as relevant as ever. In his guest verse, Lamar references the reality of ongoing police violence against African-Americans and its historical roots.
Springsteen wrote ‘American Skin (41 Shots)’ following the 1999 police shooting of Amadou Diallo by plain-clothed NYPD officers who fired a total of 41 shots at the Guinean immigrant. Nineteen of the shots hit Diallo, who was unarmed and mistaken for a rapist. The officers were eventually acquitted.
You can watch Blige’s interview with Hillary Clinton, and her original rendition of the song, below.