A couple of days ago, Baltimore producer Adam Schwarz was at a house party when the topic turned to the ongoing and contentious situation in Ferguson, Mo. A girl at the party said she had heard a teenager, Michael Brown, had been killed, but she had not kept up with the story.
Schwarz, who is from St. Louis, went into the details.
“It was kind of awful to tell her everything that was going on. By the end of the conversation, she was pretty much in tears,” Schwarz said on the phone from his Waverly home on Wednesday.
The situation matters deeply to Schwarz, and he hopes to continue to raise awareness of what he considers a “terrifying” situation.
On Sunday, he uploaded “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” a political Baltimore Club track that not only samples Blaqstarr’s classic “Hands Up Thumbs Down,” but also source material straight from Ferguson. You can hear protesters chanting “Don’t shoot,” tear gas grenades being fired and the uncomfortable high pitch from the police’s Long Range Acoustic Device.
When asked what it’s been like, as a St. Louis native, to watch the scene unfold in Ferguson, Schwarz said, “It’s terrifying and it makes me sick.” Nonetheless, like many others across the country, he has been unable to turn away from it.
“It’s been a lot of nights where I’ve stayed up watching the live stream, and I probably shouldn’t because it’s so traumatizing,” Schwarz said. “Then I have a hard time falling asleep.”
Schwarz has been busy lately. He just premiered a Vine-inspired mix on Vice's popular music website Noisey, and he has also been working on beats for Baltimore rapper DDm. Still, the situation in Ferguson has dominated his thoughts, and it was only a matter of time before he released a song that addressed it.
“I’m just always making music,” he said, “but I was also totally consumed by what was going on there.”
Listen to “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” below.