Cole’s approach to the track is as minimal as the beat. He doesn’t rap here; instead, he jumps between spoken word narrative and bursts of singing, with requests like, “Don’t just stand around.” Eyewitness recordings are also dispersed in the mix.
Cole ends with the refrain, “All we want to do is take the chains off / All we want to do is be free.”
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The tragedy also inspired Cole to tweet for the first time in three weeks. His point is clear:
J. Cole also shared the following message via his blog, Dreamvillain:
There was a time in my life when I gave a f-ck. Every chance I got I was screaming about it. I was younger. It’s so easy to try to save the world when you’re in college. You got nothing but time and no responsibility. But soon life hits you. No more dorms, no more meal plan, no more refund check. N---a need a job. N---a got rent. Got car note. Cable bill. Girlfriend moves in and becomes wife. Baby on the way. Career advances. Instagram is poppin. Lebron leaves Miami. LIFE HITS. We become distracted. We become numb. I became numb. But not anymore. That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a f-ck if it’s by police or peers. This shit is not normal.
I made a song. This is how we feel.
Update: Just hours after it's posting, "Be Free" became the most-talked about track on Twitter in the U.S., reaching the No. 1 position by 10am on Friday, August 15.