In response to the tragic killing of Amadou Diallo in February of 1999, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band debuted a song called “American Skin (41 Shots)” during their reunion tour the following year.
Led by the line “You can get killed just for living in your American skin,” Springsteen was boycotted by the majority of the NYPD during the final 10-show stretch of the tour in New York. But, the people embraced it with open arms and praised Springsteen for using his platform to speak out and raise awareness on the severe issues that have been plaguing our country for years.
Bruce Springsteen has continued to perform the song throughout the years. Including 2012, in response to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. And 2013, following George Zimmerman’s bullshit not guilty verdict.
Sadly, as the years continue to rack up, so does the body count of innocent African American who are being killed by law enforcement. From Terence Crutcher in Tulsa to Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, it’s like every other week we hear about another soul taken by the hands of those who are sworn to “protect and serve” us.
Looking to bring Springsteen’s powerful message back to the forefront, Mary J Blige performed “American Skin (41 Shots)” in the middle of her sit-down with Secretary Hillary Clinton on her new Apple Music show, The 411.
“I wanted to incorporate the song in the show because 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,” she explained. “I’m a singer first… so that’s the only way I can express myself and the only way I can get that reaction from [Clinton] is to sing it. I didn’t warm up, I just sang… It was organic and that’s how it went. And hopefully, I believe she felt it, I think she did.”
After the show aired on September 30th, there was talk of a studio version that Mary recorded. And sure enough, three weeks later, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul delivers an official cover with help from Kendrick Lamar.
Press play on MJB and Dot’s “American Skin (41 Shots)” below.