CJ Mills’ opening verse in “What Can You Do Me” is looking with sad and defiant eyes at the death of Trayvon Martin.
Some choice lyrics go: “Politicians always lying / a man can stand his ground at the expense of children dying … we were outraged rightfully / put your hoodies on tight for me…”
And, so, a year after the song’s writing — by Omaha singers/songwriters CJ Mills and Dominique Morgan, who comprise The Citizens — it sadly finds a new topical point of resonance: the killing of Michael Brown and the violence in Ferguson. Unfortunately for the action, conviction and growth the song demands from the powers that be, all it had to do was wait a year for another tragedy. And this one makes the disenfranchised voices that Mills and Morgan take on ring out all the stronger.
Martin’s and Brown’s deaths are unmistakable allusions, yes, but Morgan’s verse promises “What Can You Do For Me” a kind of anthem-hood for the marginalized and the invisible, more generally. It features some subtle and pleasant use of Morgan’s lower register, as his voice mingles with Mills’. The protest song marches along to the rhythm of Mills’ acoustic guitar and Dmajishin’s production work.
The song was released via iTunes and Amazon back in April on the Icon One Music label, but you can watch the premiere for its video, directed by Jeremy Partridge, below: