When we first learned that Mary J. Blige was interviewing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, we knew the conversation was going to be worth following. What no one could’ve predicted was that at one point, Blige would hold Clinton’s hands and do a brief cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “American Skin (41 Shots),” a song he wrote to address and honor Amadou Diallo, the victim of a 1999 police-involved shooting.
Now, Blige has dropped a full cover of the song with a new verse by Kendrick Lamar, and the echoes between the subject of Springsteen’s original song and unrest now are explicitly laid out.
Diallo’s story is painfully familiar: Mistaken for a different suspect, Diallo was shot 41 times by four NYPD officers, who were all acquitted of second-degree murder charges. Springsteen first released the song in 2001, and its performance inspired police boycotts around Springsteen’s shows.
While Blige’s cover pulls from Springsteen’s original, Lamar’s verse is original and timely, featuring a shoutout to Colin Kaepernick. It’s unclear if the song’s release is a formal part of Blige’s new album roll-out, which will be her thirteenth studio album, but we’re glad that we have this full version out in the world.