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Hear Jay Z’s protest song Spiritual, released to honor victims of police brutality

Jay Z has released a previously recorded single called Spiritual as a response to the recent police shootings of two black men. Alton Sterling was fatally shot in Louisiana and Philando Castile was killed in Minnesota this week by police officers. The song comes in the midst of a seriously tragic time in America when it comes to gun violence.

The nearly four-minute song is available to stream for free on the Jay Z-owned streaming service Tidal, and came accompanied with a note from the rapper highlighting the need for a more united fight against racial inequality in his home country.

Related: Listen: Britney Spears, J-Lo, and dozens of pop stars release single to help Orlando victims

According to the musician, Spiritual was recorded about a year ago, and he was encouraged by Top Dawg Entertainment co-President Terrence “Punch” Henderson to release it after Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014. Instead, Jay Z decided to hold on to the single until now.

“Punch told me I should drop it when Mike Brown died, sadly I told him, ‘This issue will always be relevant,’” the rapper wrote, “I’m hurt that I knew his death wouldn’t be the last.”

A complex trap-influenced single with dark piano undertones, the song explores the emotions that run wild after these tragedies occur. “Got my hands in the air in despair/don’t shoot/I just wanna do good,” Jay-Z repeats in the chorus — an homage to the fear many people of color feel when confronted by officers of the law.

As America continues to deal with these issues both publicly and privately, the influence of big-name voices like Jay Z’s will be important, and the superstar expresses his confusion and discontent without overt anger toward police — using his words to express solidarity, rather than hate. In light of Thursday’s horrific attacks in Dallas, in which five police officers lost their lives and seven more were injured, that sentiment seems more poignant than ever.

“I’m saddened and disappointed in THIS America — we should be further along,” wrote the rapper.

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