Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark encourages voting with new music/spoken word video

ras baraka what we want

Ras Baraka in the “What We Want, Part 2” video.

Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark, who is a published poet, released a spoken-word-and-music video, “What We Want,” this summer, in response to the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests. And he has followed it up, in Election Day season, with another video, “What We Want, Part 2.”

You can watch both below and/or or purchase the song at

Baraka, son of the hugely influential but also controversial poet Amiri Baraka (who served as New Jersey’s Poet Laureate in 2002 and 2003, and died in 2014), delivers his lines in “What We Want, Part 2” on the steps of Newark City Hall, and video footage of protesters is also shown. Luke James sings on the track, and Jerry Wonda plays bass and percussion in addition to producing.

Wonda played bass and was a co-producer for The Fugees, and also has collaborated with Wyclef Jean on many projects. He has also worked with artists ranging from Melissa Etheridge to Justin Bieber.

Ras Baraka added spoken word segments to The Fugees’ breakthrough album The Score as well as The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

In “What We Want, Part 2,” James warmly sings lyrics such as “Change is on its way” and “We conquer the hate with love.” Baraka’s lines include, “We want to outlaw racism and white supremacy and ban the Confederate flag … and we don’t want to get choked to death in our own backyard.”

“I think the timing is perfect (for the video), considering what’s happening not just during this period, but also because of the election,” Baraka said Nov. 1 on MSNBC. “It’s an opportunity for us to allow our voices to be heard. It’s probably one of the most important elections in our lifetime. It’s an opportunity to make some things happen. And all the things we’ve been protesting, marching for, this is a step, a way to open up the door, to get some of the things that we think we should have.”


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