Photo by Michael Halsband

Ben Harper has released the first single, “We Need to Talk About It,” off his highly anticipated forthcoming album, Bloodline Maintenance, due out on July 22 via Chrysalis Records. The singer and multi-instrumentalist shared his signature funky edge on the new release, which is capped with thought-provoking lyrics to illustrate the longevity of slavery and ongoing racial injustices.

The song is much more than a ditty; it’s a fierce look into the Black experience that calls attention to prolonged intolerance. The song begins with Harper declaring: “Slavery/ We need to talk about it/ I say Black Lives Matter/ ‘Cause history says we don’t/You’re either a Christian or a racist/ You can’t be both.”

As the tune develops, the instrumentals intensify, as do the lyrics: “How does a ghost forgive/ How are we supposed to live/ With 12 million taken/ Not one single reparation/ What does it say about forgiveness/ What does it say about compassion/ About justice/ About fairness.” Finally, as Harper calls into question the basic principles of equality, the song finds a dramatic finish on, “What does it say about now,” leaving the listener to ponder, “How far have we come?” 

Before the single’s release, Harper appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live this past Monday to perform the song live for the first time. The musician and his band played a high-energy, psychedelic take on “We Need to Talk About It” for the program’s studio audience. Watch here

Stream “We Need to Talk About It” now.

Watch the official music video below.