Dua Saleh is among the Twin Cities music scene’s most essential new voices, an artist whose perspective is particularly needed right now.
As the police response to protests against the killing of George Floyd grew increasingly violent this weekend, the Twin Cities singer/rapper dropped a new song, “body cast,” that addresses “police brutality and injustice,” according to a statement on their Bandcamp page.
Saleh says that the song, recorded with their frequent collaborator Psymun, isn’t new and was intended as part of a future project (perhaps ROSETTA, the new EP they’re set to drop next month) but that the present moment called for its release. The single’s cover art is a list of unarmed black people killed by the police, a horrifically long list of names.
On “body cast,” Saleh expresses frustration in sharp imagery (“Lately I’ve had plaster on my mind/County ain't on shit they got bodies on the line/Lately I’ve been analyzing time/Y’all been dodging cameras like they bullets over crime”), their voice both fierce and mournful.
The proceeds from ‘body cast’ go to the Black Visions Collective, the social justice nonprofit of which Saleh is a member. The track is bookended with audio clips from a 2019 video of a Billings, Montana woman, Angela Whitehead, standing up to police who attempted to enter her home illegally, a clash that went viral last year.
Saleh also contributed to a Rolling Stone story last week that collected the perspectives of black Minnesota musicians, including New Power Generation drummer Michael Bland and rappers Nur-D and Finding Novyon.
In Rolling Stone, Saleh called out Jacob Frey's response to the Floyd killing (“Frey is more invested in the aesthetic of thoughtful leadership, but in my opinion, Mayor Frey does not seem to be practicing thoughtful leadership”), criticized media outlets for overlooking the fact that “mobilization by those that organize is overwhelmingly led by trans and queer black people,” and revealed that illness has kept them home during the protests while they await COVID-19 test results.