Arts and Culture

Louisville musician Jaelan Cross, aka YGB JAY, created a song in response to the local protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The song is called “Anarchy.”

“I wrote ‘Anarchy’ on June the first,” Cross said. “I was in Vegas, watching friends live back home of what was going on, and I actually got to see the David McAtee event… live on someone’s Facebook.”

He said he returned to Louisville on June 2, “to the protests,” when they shot some footage for the video.

“I stayed up all night…to make sure I could get it out as fast as possible,” Cross said.

The musician gives “all credit” to the project to his producer, SAG LIVE, who is based in St. Louis, Missouri. 

“We were making other music, and he’s like, ‘this isn’t right, we need to be making music about what’s going on,” Cross said. “And we just stopped working on that and wrapped up the night with that song and I haven’t made any music since because it’s the only thing that’s in my heart.”

For the music video, he used footage from the protests, and contrasted sound from the current president and two late civil rights activists. 

“I was gonna do a monologue and I couldn’t come up with anything,” Cross said. “So I said, Let me find something, and I found  Malcolm [X]… him saying, to us, the president resembles a warden and to the common person in America, he’s a symbol of justice and peace.”

Cross layered the Malcolm X speech with a video from a 2016 Donald Trump rally where the then-candidate, saying of Black voters, “What do you have to lose?” The now-president goes on to say that Black communities are living in poverty and have bad schools. 

“It recirculated… amidst all the things that are going on,” Cross said of the Trump clip. 

“The actual protest [footage] came together organically,” he added. “I was down on Fourth Street Live, shooting the video, and we were leaving to go home and the march came past us and we just just hopped out and got in it. 

The video closes with a speech from Martin Luther King, Jr. that implores “America to commit to the things they agreed to on paper.” 

“He says how he may be able to understand this if we were in a totalitarian country, who hasn’t committed to these things on paper,” such as freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, Cross said. 

“It was very powerful to me,” he said.

The phrase “You Gotta Believe” appears across the screen toward the end of the video and it concludes with, “In memory of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee.”

For Cross, the experience of creating “Anarchy” and its music video has him thinking differently about his music moving forward. 

“I feel like it’s a social obligation, as much as voting, for me to continue to make music that moves, not only my culture forward, but the American culture forward because, as much knowledge as we all gained, the better we’ll be.”

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.