From The Vault: Michael Jackson – ‘They Don’t Really Care About Us’

Published: Sunday 10th Jul 2016 by Joe

“I have a wife and two children who love me, I am the victim of police brutality”

This week’s From The Vault comes courtesy of Michael Jackson and his plaintive ‘They Don’t Care About Us’, a more than apt selection considering the social climate that has been reigning for the past week in the US.

The third single from the ’HIStory’ LP, the track was produced entirely by Jackson and remains to this day one of his most controversial cuts.

Earlier efforts such as ‘Heal The World’ and ‘We Are The World’ saw the entertainer adopt a universalist point of view. ‘About Us,’ however, was markedly more aggressive in its subject matter. It’s central narrative saw Jackson’s complain that he was fed up with the way the collective “us” was being treated.

Quickly, accusations of racism – particularly antisemitism – were raised which the superstar fervently denied.

*************

A huge hit in Europe, the song was only a moderate hit in the US because of radio’s reluctance to play the track. No doubt due to the truth serum at the heart of the cut.

Still, it peaked inside the Top 10 of every European country it was released in, including Top 5 placings in France, Sweden and the UK.

To keep up with the public awareness theme of the track, MJ chose to work with Spike Lee to bring the song to life and oh did he succeed.

Two videos were shot, both making social commentaries in their own way.

The first presented Mike in a Brazilian favela; but instead of putting the emphasis on the dangerous and ruthless aspects of that environment, the artist chose to paint a colorful, upbeat and optimistic picture of the neighborhood.

The second was shot in a prison and made much more obvious allusions to the way people of color are (mis)treated in America – with footage of the KKK and police brutality among other poignant images.

Sam Cooke famously crooned that change was “gon’ come.” Sadly, despite positive strides in the right direction, there’s a lot more ground to tread.

At a time where the #BlackLivesMatter movement is at the center of every discussion the world over, it’s interesting to observe how relevant the lyrics of this song are 20 years on.

Our wish is that more artists will follow Jackson’s lead and be able to “conscious” content within a banging beat.

Your thoughts?

Posted under:

Comments 19

Please Post Your Comments & Reviews

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Stephy July 10, 2016

    A Masterpiece.

    • Fancy BISH July 10, 2016

      Yaaas!

    • ?+✈=? July 10, 2016

      He should’ve givin this song to an artist with black skin

      • Stephy July 10, 2016

        No, he was perfect for it. Jackson knew what it was like to be in both skins…PERFECT! And, those were HIS words, written & produced by him. A troubled man but a brilliant artist.

      • LmfaoHoe July 10, 2016

        Let’s not go there, even with his condition. MJ never lost his identity better yet RACE he knew and was proud to be a black man.

  2. Fancy BISH July 10, 2016

    HIStory is a masterpiece! MJ was VERY personal, and didn’t dance around any issue that was bothering him…the production, lyrics and vocal performances were all on point…SCREAM is a personal favorite of mine…MJ and Janet was straight SNAPPIN on that song lol…You Are Not Alone is SUBLIME…the whole album is hot chile lol

  3. Mmhhmm July 10, 2016

    King.

  4. Lmfao_Hoe July 10, 2016

    The HiStory ALBUM I swaer by far is underrated along with Dangerous and Invincible to a degree. I’ve been listening to this song along with Marvin Gaye’s Whats Going On for the past couple days.

  5. Fancy BISH July 10, 2016

    Oh my God, can’t believe what I saw
    As I turned on the TV this evening
    I was disgusted by all the injustice
    All the injustice -SCREAM
    VERY relevant!

  6. Fake Songwriting Credits July 10, 2016

    And some have the nerve to call a certain “singer” (who is notable for her blonde wig, wearing a leotard and abusing wind machines), the next MJ LMAOOOOO.

    • Mark111 /.\ July 10, 2016

      I don’t get it. If she was as great as they claim she is, she would just be BEYONCE and not a 2nd rated version of another artist. Rihanna is RIHANNA, Aaliyah was AALYAH. Not “The next”, “The New”, “This gen”, “The Black” of anything. The power is in their names.

      • JOHNVIDAL July 11, 2016

        Hmm delusional Rihanna fans themselves (some of them) are comparing Rihanna´s achievements to thsoe of Michael Jackson and otehrs. Something any sane person knows is b*******. So if I were a Rihanna fan (which I´m not) I wouldn´t be talking about any Beyonce fan (which I´m not) comparing her to the likes of Michael.

      • BEY>RIH July 11, 2016

        Numerous nazí members on this site have called rihanna “the black madonna”…

  7. Mark111 /.\ July 10, 2016

    He was P!SSED on the History album. What a overlooked masterpiece.

  8. ow Reddish tran ivy blokz Need UK timely Ukuyikiji July 11, 2016

    Nice

  9. JOHNVIDAL July 11, 2016

    Amazing song! And sounds so FRESH these many years later. Only true greats…

  10. MJ = KING July 11, 2016

    As a white 20 year old male living in London, I am disgusted by the recent events that have transpired in the US. I’ve had discussions with friends of mine about the killings (murder, to be more exact) of the innocent African American men in both Louisiana and Minnesota. I’ve explained to them that, although the shootings have made global news, police killing unarmed African American men happens very frequently in the US. My dad even gasped at the statistics, but due to being on social media, I was already aware of these brutal attacks.

    Race is such a MASSIVE issue in the US, and it’s not like that here at all. We may speak the same language, but the culture of the US and UK are completely different. America is so backwards in its ideology and views. It upsets me so much. I’m gay and racism upsets me so much more than homophobia even. It’s disgusting and my heart goes out to those who have experienced such racism.

  11. What Now July 11, 2016

    Only MJ could make such a song that is still remembered, celebrated, and can still resonate with people today. RIP

  12. Empire I July 11, 2016

    If you need a social commentary song please check out my tune S.O.S To Freedom https://soundcloud.com/empirei/sos-to-freedom recorded at John Legend studio and produced by Robopop in NYC … It features the Brooklyn Boys choir on the bridge. Blessed Love everybody

Recommended Posts
.. **