Mike Brown, a name we’ve all come to know, was killed August 9 in Ferguson, Mo. by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. Philadelphia rapper Chill Moody penned, “We’re Worth More” the day after.

Chill wrote a letter that would later become his art work for the song:

I wrote this song August 10th, the Monday after the Michael Brown murder. I let a friend of mine hear it and their response was “yo this is dope! You need to drop it now while Ferguson is poppin”. I appreciated the compliment but was instantly taken back by the “while Ferguson is poppin” comment. Topical music shouldn’t be made in hopes to capitalize on a moment. Especially in cases like the ones addressed in this record, these problems are reoccurring and deserve our attention for a longer duration than the “while it’s poppin” grace period. Fast forward to today, the day after the decision was made to deny Mike Brown’s family the chance to receive justice, and I get a different message from a friend: “Chill, people need this record right now”. The change in commentary gave me a better understanding. Music helps healing. There is value in our lives, we have to take more claim to that. #WereWorthMore

“We’re Worth More” was a response to Mike Brown, but speaks to the murders of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and countless young black men that never received justice.

Only a week after learning Darren Wilson would not be indicted, another white police officer was let off the hook for murder. A Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Daniel Pantoleo, the NYPD cop who choked Eric Garner, another unarmed Black man, to death.

At a time of hopelessness without answers or solutions, people are expressing themselves in the only ways they know how. For Chill it’s through music.

We spoke with Chill Moody and he discussed fears being a black man, how hip-hop can move us forward, and more.

The Urban Daily: What was going through your mind when you wrote this song? 

Chill Moody: Too much was going through my mind while writing this song. I was trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to say, what I wanted the message to be. I wanted to make sure not to focus on just one instance or occurrence, because I wanted the record to be timeless.

I wanted to make sure it didn’t come off too “preachy,” I didn’t want anyone to have a reason not to listen. I was also upset while I was writing, upset that another UNARMED Black man had been slain at the hands of the police— that sh-t hurt. So there was some frustration, and feelings of just being fed up. I just wanted to make sure I got all that across and at the same time make a good song.

TUD: Talk about your decision to put this record out when the narrative changed about Mike Brown’s death. 

CM: We actually were going to drop it a couple weeks before the decision came out, just on like a random Wednesday, but we didn’t get the mix back from the studio in time.

The letter I wrote for the artwork was done and everything. Then when we got the mix back it just so happened to be the day after the grand jury made their decision, and that’s when I got the “people need this record right now” text I spoke about.

I added that part to the artwork and we dropped the record. It just felt like the right time.

TUD: As a black man, how can you relate to what happened to Mike Brown? 

CM: It’s scary, what happened to Mike Brown, it’s what my dad and my old heads always warned me about growing up. The sometimes inevitable, end result of a white cop black male “suspect.”You grow up kind of in fear, like I’m a law-abiding citizen to the fullest, but I’m still and forever will be nervous when I’m driving and a cop is behind me. It’s just a fear because you know the “worst case scenario” is pretty damn probable.

TUD: On this track you say “We ain’t off the hook…” What does this mean in relation to the recent killings of young black men?

CM: That bar was written to address the people who say stuff like “If we would stop killing each other THEY wouldn’t kill us,” and other things like that. Just taking some claim to the fact that black on black crime is also a problem that we need to address, but it’s just a branch on a tree of bigger problems.

TUD: How important is socially conscious music? 

CM: It’s equally important as turning up in the club music or music about love and relationships. There has to be a balance, people aren’t just one way all the time. The important part is making sure there is a balance and some type of socially conscious music in the mainstream.

TUD: Are there any other songs you feel are appropriate for what we’re going through as a nation? 

CM: The night of the grand jury’s decision in the Mike Brown case I just started listening to a bunch of music, that’s what made me say “music helps healing.” I listened to Styles P “I’m Black,” Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On, I listened to a bunch of Gil Scott Heron, Michael Jackson “They Don’t Care About Us,” The Roots ” A Clock With No Hands,” and then some newer songs like 5 Grand’s “When The World Turns Blue” and J.Coles “Be Free.”

TUD: Do you think hip-hop today can help move us forward? 

CM: I would hope so. It’s just a matter of finding a listenable way to deliver the message, and not being afraid to speak on things.

TUD: What are black lives worth? 

CM: More.

Listen to Chill Moody’s track “We’re Worth More” below.

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