16 Of The Best Songs About Injustice To Fight Against It

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Musicians have often sung about the injustices we face in our society. The musical tradition of songs about injustice traces back to labor issues and racial segregation, among others.

Though some might be controversial, each one has served to help open people’s eyes to the injustice we have in our world. So join us as we go over 16 of the best songs about injustice to ignite your revolutionary spirit. Let’s get started.

1. “Alright” By Kendrick Lamar

Rapper Kendrick Lamar created an anthem in 2015 with the song “Alright” from his album To Pimp a Butterfly. The track and album were monumental in the conscious hip-hop scene, and critics have regarded both as some of the finest hip-hop ever.

“Alright” is a song about injustice and being ready to fight against it. Despite all the awfulness of life, the rapper concludes that everything will be okay if the community bands together to fight against oppressive forces.

Several movements used this song as a rallying cry, particularly the Black Lives Matter protests. Lamar said he took inspiration from the racial struggles in South Africa during a visit and remarked on how fraught the situation was in the nation.

2. “Blowin’ In The Wind” By Bob Dylan

Hall of Famer Bob Dylan rejected the notion of being a spokesperson for the folk movement of the 1960s. Despite his hesitance to be a leader, he still created one of the greatest songs about injustice with his 1962 track “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

“Blowin’ in the Wind” sees the singer ask numerous rhetorical questions. The singer focuses on if peace or war will win out and wonders how much injustice society will be willing to watch before finding an answer.

The singer concludes that the answer is blowing in the wind. Many listeners have questioned the meaning of the chorus. Some argue the chorus contends that the answer is obvious, while others believe it is fleeting and unknowable.

3. “A Change Is Gonna Come” By Sam Cooke

Though not an immediate success when it appeared on his album Ain’t That Good News in 1964, “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke is one of the most enduring songs of the civil rights era.

This song sees the singer look with hope for the future. He knows the racial situation in the country is dire but holds fast to his belief that the state of affairs will change someday.

Cooke wrote the song after he and his friends could not gain admittance to a whites-only establishment. The experience inspired Cooke to write his ballad and dream of a better future for black people in America.

4. “Glory” By Common Ft. John Legend

Rapper Common and John Legend had one of the best songs about injustice with their collaboration on “Glory.” The two artists pulled from gospel music for the backing track.

Common and Legend wrote the song for the film Selma, which detailed the life of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Common also played a role in the movie.

Deeply rooted in black musical traditions, the lyrics delve into the injustices black people have faced in the United States throughout history. The rapper mentions pivotal moments and characters in history, such as Rosa Parks and the Ferguson protests.

5. “Imagine” By John Lennon

“Imagine” is the most enduring track of John Lennon’s solo career. The song gave its name to an album, and over 200 artists have recorded renditions of the ballad. The song did not peak at the top of the charts until Lennon’s murder in 1980.

In the lyrics, the singer asks us to believe in a world with no injustice and strife. He looks fondly at the idea of a world with no materialism and no war. The song is optimistic in its ideals about a future where people can understand each other perfectly.

When discussing songs about injustice, it is hard to ignore this classic from a former member of the Fab Four. Perhaps the imagery the lyrics evoke can help move people to make this world a better place.

6. “Fight The Power” By Public Enemy

Spike Lee called Public Enemy to request they record the song “Fight the Power” for his film Do the Right Thing. The film details a hot summer’s day in New York and the racial tensions in one neighborhood that explode by the end.

The song appears throughout the movie on the boombox Radio Raheem carries around. Furthermore, it is an anthem for black Americans, referencing the history of oppression they have suffered in the country.

Lee requested the song be angry and defiant. Public Enemy’s bass player Brian Hardgroove said he believed the song was about fighting abuse of power and injustice in the world.

7. “The Message” By Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

“The Message” was one of the earliest examples of socio-conscious hip-hop music. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five created one of the most enduring rap songs ever, and it is as topical today as it was in 1982.

The song details the disparity in wealth between the inner cities and other areas of the country. The rappers discuss the injustice faced in the city, where police arrest citizens for no reason, and youths turn to a life of crime with no chance at a well-paying job.

Notably, this song became NME‘s Track of the Year in 1982 and has inspired numerous hip-hop groups and rappers that came after Grandmaster Flash. 

8. “Strange Fruit” By Billie Holiday

Released as a single in 1939, “Strange Fruit” is one of the oldest songs on the list. Billie Holliday did not write the song but recorded the definitive version of the tune. Long-play records did not exist in the 1930s, so this song was not part of an album.

Abel Meeropol wrote the song to vent his frustrations about the lynchings of black people. In the lyrics, he compares the bodies of hanged people to a strange fruit on a tree. Commodore released this song at a turbulent time in racial relations.

Contemporary critics and modern ones alike view this song as one of the first anthems of the burgeoning civil rights movement. In 2002, the Library of Congress added the song to the National Recording Registry.

9. “Born This Way” By Lady Gaga

Dance-pop singer Lady Gaga saw the discrimination facing women and the LGBT community and decided to record one of the greatest songs about injustice. “Born This Way” was conceived by Gaga as an anthem for anyone who has faced injustice due to the way they were born.

The song is simple to interpret, as the singer discusses not feeling any shame for who they are. The singer is proud of what makes them different and is willing to fight against the injustice they see daily.

Gaga succeeded in her goal of creating an anthem and freedom song, as “Born This Way” was a smash hit. It set the world record for the fastest-selling single on iTunes.

10. “Which Side Are You On?” By Florence Reece

The oldest song on the list, “Which Side Are You On?” is about a battle as old as time: bosses versus employees. Inspired by the terrors her husband went through as a union organizer for the United Mine Workers, Florence Reece wrote this song as an anthem for the working class against injustice.

The song asks the listener who they will back in the labor conflict: will they stand with the company and work as a scab, or will they support the unioned mine workers?

Local authorities terrorized Reece and her husband, including raiding their house at night to capture Sam Reece. Florence Reece wrote this song following the experience.

11. “Redemption Song” By Bob Marley & the Wailers

Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley was known for being outspoken when it came to injustices and social reforms, and the final song on his last album, “Redemption Song,” is one of the acclaimed artist’s best.

This song is not about facing injustice from external forces but rather internal ones. The singer encourages the listener to free themselves from the mental prison they have built up or built by the opinion of others.

Sometimes, we can be the cruelest to ourselves. This song about injustice asks you to be kinder to yourself and others. Marley’s final track is a reminder to fight injustice in all forms.

12. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” By U2

Like many of these songs about injustice, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from U2’s album War took inspiration from actual events. The track is the most political song the band recorded.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” expressed dismay at the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The song laments the violence that grew out of that time, including the Bloody Sunday incident, where British troops killed protestors.

Bono said the song has an anti-violence message. The track is one of U2’s most famous, a staple in their live performances, and one of their signature songs.

13. “This Is America” By Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino, or Donald Glover if you prefer, released the most talked about song of 2018 with his single “This Is America.” The track cleaned up at the Grammys, taking home four awards and topping the charts.

“This Is America” is filled to the brim with direct references and allusions to societal injustice. Gambino raps about Black Lives Matter, gun violence, and police brutality.

The accompanying music video adds extra symbolism to the track, and many analysts have broken down the metaphors Gambino employs from the visuals. When discussing songs about injustice, “This Is America” is a must-include.

14. “Killing In The Name” By Rage Against The Machine

“Killing in the Name” appeared on the debut studio album of the heavy metal band Rage Against the Machine. Despite being one of the first songs from the band, it remains one of the group’s most enduring hits.

The song is about the injustice people face in the wake of police brutality. The band has said they sought to call into question police actions and the military-industrial complex.

Rage Against the Machine frontman Tom Morello said his primary inspiration for the song was the police beating of Rodney King and the riots in Los Angeles in 1992. 

15. “London Calling” By The Clash

Punk music has a long history of dealing with injustice in society. The Clash looked to its home country of England for the song “London Calling” from the album of the same name.

The song deals with inequalities in British society and people’s anxieties at the time. The band relates the feelings to drowning in the River Thames.

The rambling political message includes worries about police brutality and the economic downturn of the country. The Clash also looked outside of London for inspiration, including referring to the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island. 

16. “Fortunate Son” By Creedence Clearwater Revival

The final song on this list to have emerged from the tumultuous 1960s is “Fortunate Son.” This number from Creedence Clearwater Revival may be one of the best and is certainly among the most famous.

The rock song, released on the album Willy and the Poor Boys, is a pointed critique of the Vietnam War and its associated political injustices.

The lyrics, spoken from the perspective of an angry working-class soldier, reflect that those who fought in and died for the war effort often did so simply because they did not have the money to dodge the draft.

Summing Up Our List Of Songs About Injustice

Spanning different music eras and genres, some of the most prominent artists have boldly tackled various injustices through their lyrics and artistic expression as a whole. The above songs serve as a reminder of important social issues of the past and inspire us to build a better future for everyone.

There are plenty of songs out there that remind us about the injustice that continues around the world, so we might have missed a few that should be on this list. Let us know, and we can add them for you.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.