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Alicia Keys on Speaking Up For Breonna Taylor, ‘Verzuz’ Battle and New Song ‘Perfect Way to Die’

Alicia Keys is using her time in quarantine to make her voice, and the voices of others, heard as loudly as possible.

On Monday night (June 15), Keys stopped by The Daily Show to talk to Trevor Noah about two of her upcoming projects, as well as a non-musical effort that is close to her heart.

First up is her brand-new song, “Perfect Way to Die,” which she said was originally inspired by the killings of Mike Brown and Sandra Bland, the former killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the latter who died of hanging in her jail cell in Texas in 2015 after police stopped her for a minor traffic violation.

“You hear these stories, and you hear their stories in these lyrics and the devastating thing is that it’s never not going to be relevant,” said Keys. “And where we are right now, in the world and in this country, in American particularly, we are in a real, a real place that we can all see that this is the most major pandemic of all. This deeply rooted racism, this police brutality, this treatment of black people that is just completely unacceptable. To the point where daily daily we are seeing lives lost, people murdered for… nothing, nothing. For being black.”

Keys said the song encapsulates that feeling and the fire and energy of the nationwide protests, with the chorus exclaiming, “I guess you picked the perfect way to die,” even as Keys wonders if there is such a thing; at press time, a release date had not been announced for the song.

Noah also complimented Keys for helping to spearhead an initiative among fellow black women in the industry including Cardi B and Tracee Ellis Ross, among others, to shine a light on the police-caused killing of Breonna Taylor. With no arrests to date in the case in which Louisville police broke down Taylor’s door using a “no-knock” warrant and shot her multiple times in her own bedroom, Keys said she’s been in contact with Taylor’s mom to raise the profile of the case and urge officials to charge the officers involved.

Keys noted that Taylor’s sister was in an adjacent bedroom, meaning their mother could have lost two daughters in the same night. “It’s outrageous,” Keys said of the lack of charges or arrests in the case. So, she and some fellow entertainers got together last week to amplify Taylor’s story and put pressure on the city of Louisville to ban the controversial warrants, which they did last Thursday; for more information on the effort, click here.

The singer also discussed her upcoming Verzuz battle with John Legend, where she and her friend will pull up to their pianos and throw down in celebration of Juneteenth. “It’s been incredible, especially during this time of COVID and us being so kind of confined to our spaces, it’s really been something that so many people look forward to,” she said of the battle series co-created by her husband, producer Swizz Beatz.

Watch Keys’ interview with Noah below.

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