Vic Mensa, Lauren Jauregui, Aloe Blacc and more lent their voices to Defund The Sheriff (The Album), a musical compilation tied to the campaign to defund the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and allocate those funds to other local resources.
JusticeLA, #SchoolsNotPrisons, Question Culture and Reform LA Jails produced Defund The Sheriff, which criminal justice speaker and musician Mike de la Rocha and formerly incarcerated Question Culture CEO Richie Reseda executive produced. The 17-track LP arrives in time with local campaigns to invest in alternatives to incarceration as LA County pushes to construct two new jails with a $3.5 billion budget, so these artists are applying pressure to scrap the project with their very own.
“The prison industrial complex of The Divided States of America is one of the greatest stains ever to blemish the bloody flag that is America,” Mensa said in the press release. “The sheriff is little more than the militarized arm of this oppressive system; it is our duty as revolutionaries to challenge and dismantle white supremacy to the furthest extent possible within our lifetimes, by any and all means necessary.”
Mensa and Jauregui appear on the first track “Largest Jail System on Earth” together with Reseda, while the Chicago-born rapper hops on three more songs. Blacc appears on two separate occasions in the listing under his alias Avery Blackman for “Black is Beautiful” and as part of the hip-hop group Emanon with producer Exile for “Shine Your Light.”
“This album is an expression of that vision set to music. Our goal is to spark the imaginations of listeners with truth and move them to take action,” said Ivette Ale, JusticeLA lead organizer, in the release. “The music will support our upcoming campaigns to defund The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, stop the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for Sheriff lawsuits, and invest those dollars in alternatives to incarceration and community-based care.”
Where popular culture and politics meet, these 20 tapped artists and four organizations find themselves collectively calling on LA County to redirect the billions of dollars funneled into how people have been policed to solutions showing how people should be cared for, such as affordable housing, accessible mental health care and access to education. Last month, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to defund the sheriff’s department by $145.4 million.
But for 88, a currently incarcerated artist who sings “Kings In Chains” on the album, he tells his story from behind the bars.
“I’m currently serving 40-years-to-double-life that LA county sentenced me to at 15 years old. I’ve been incarcerated for 17 years,” he said in the release. “It’s on artists like me to use art to tell the truth — to use art for abolition. I have firsthand experience with LA county law enforcement and they don’t have a good track record with people of color.”
Listen to Defund The Sheriff (The Album) below.