WATCH: Montreal artist celebrates Martin Luther King Day
MONTREAL — Montreal rapper and producer Jonathan Emile has released his latest song “Heaven Help Dem” just in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
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The ode to victims of police violence was going to be released last year, but when the Eric Garner and Tamir Rice killings sparked protests and marches in the United States, Emile did not want to be seen as piggybacking on the outrage.
“I didn’t want to seem opportunist.”
“It was an extremely sensitive and volatile time in the U.S. with all the incidents that were mobilizing people across race, across class to take to the streets and protest a system which they see as not facilitating justice,” Emile told Global News.
Emile started writing the song after the 2008 Montreal-North shooting of Fredy Villaneuva.
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“I wanted to write something that talked about police brutality, that talked about urban violence and injustice; but something that was more pensive that can bring people together.”
A cold call to American rapper and songwriter Kendrick Lamar ended with a verse in the song from the Grammy-nominated performer.
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“We felt that Kendrick Lamar was a like-minded artist who could bring an incredible dynamic and an incredible storytelling to the song.”
A song Emile said he hopes will foster unity.
“I want it to be an anthem for empathy and for bringing people together.”
Emile will be touring schools across Quebec and Ontario for Black History Month in February.