When members of the local hip-hop group Dumate Crew released the song "Brutality" last month, they were addressing recent police-involved deaths of young, unarmed black men that took place elsewhere.
But as the news broke Friday that a white Madison police officer shot and killed a young, unarmed black man, Tony Robinson, on the city's east side, the song suddenly took on new relevance.
The deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City at the hands of police and all of the raw emotions and racial issues surrounding those incidents were no longer at arm's length. The pain, confusion, anger had suddenly come here.
"Initially, I thought, 'That's not possible, not in Madison, Wisconsin -- it's gotta be a typo or something,'" says Dudu Stinks of Dumate Crew about when he first learned that MPD officer Matt Kenny killed the 19-year-old Robinson on Williamson Street Friday evening.
"We hear about other cases in other places, but you never think it's going to happen here, not in your own backyard," he continues. "I was dumbfounded and scared."
"It's surreal," says Stinks, adding that he's still somewhat in disbelief that "now the song is relevant to our home."
The song is an aggressive and emotional outpouring of both fear and anger.
"My anger is justified, many of us have died / And been incarcerated, just for trying to survive" raps DLO, the group's other MC. For his part, Stinks' verse offers: "Dirty cops bring the fight to you / Saw the murder on Youtube / Of course, you guessed it, not indicted / the party on the hill, whites only, you not invited."
Other members of the local rap community have begun speaking out and asking questions about Robinson's death.
Madison hip-hop promoter Shah Evans used his music connections and social media to bring community members together at noon Saturday at the Madison Police Department for a protest march that met up with other groups who then walked down to the site of the shooting.
Dubbed "Hip Hop Fights for Justice," Shah says his rally was attended by about 100 people and had the goal of "showing that hip hop was a part of the community, that we have a voice and that we can work with the entire community to bring about some kind of change."
"When music or entertainment has such a large impact on the youth as it does, it should be used to reach them," he says. "And we need the youth to step up because they're the ones who can really bring about change."
"Hip-Hop is raw and uncut," Shah adds. "From artists back in the day like Public Enemy and NWA to Talib Kweli and Immortal Technique today, Hip-Hop has, since its creation, been on the front lines, talking about what's going on and what's going wrong in our community, the country and the world."
Evans says he plans to meet with other community organizers about future events, which may include benefit concerts for the Robinson family.
"Where was the restraint?" he questions. "[Police] should be trained to take down individuals without using deadly force -- deadly force should be the last resort but over and over and over again, it's not."
"So either the whole system is broken -- which I don't believe, I know there are good cops around -- or the training needs to be done differently," says Evans.
DLO of Dumate Crew, who attended Evans' Saturday rally, says he was "enraged, pissed off and mad" when he heard the news and circumstances of Robinson's death. "Once I found out he was unarmed and a young male, I knew there was a problem here. It's not like we haven't seen this same scenario played out before."
In addition to continuing to address these issues with his music and attend rallies, DLO says he's looking into mentoring black youth.
"It's good to come together and talk about things but now we actually have to do something about it," he says.
Jah Boogie of Dumate Crew closes out 'Brutality,' singing: "Police brutality is still alive / And none of this, they cannot deny / And even when my hands are up in the sky / All I see is the youth, them die."
Although angered and saddened, Boogie says he wasn't surprised when he heard of the shooting.
In an effort to keep him safe, Boogie has had multiple discussions with his preteen son about how to react and interact with law enforcement.
"I've had to tell my child, a young African-American male, how to act with police officers and law enforcement, to give him certain etiquette," he says. "I tell him to use discretion with his words and tone and to always keep his body language relaxed."
In reply to reports that came out over the weekend that Tony Robinson was on probation for armed robbery, Dumate Crew's Stinks says flat out that doesn't matter. "I don't see how anything beyond the circumstance under which he was murdered would have anything to do with anything at all."
Stinks admits that he wasn't at the scene and doesn't know all the facts. But he cannot understand why Robinson was killed. "If a man is not armed and a scuffle ensues…police have multiple levels of self-protection -- they have batons, Tasers, etc.," he says. "It doesn't take more than one bullet to neutralize someone -- it certainly doesn't take five bullets. Five bullets is a way to kill somebody."