Unless you have been living on a boat in the middle of the ocean without satellite reception for the last year, you might have noticed there’s something happening in America. Things like the #BlackLivesMatter movement, revolts, excessive violence towards people of colour (and actually people in general) often by people we’re supposed to trust (like police), gun violence in schools and other public places, religious terrorism towards African-American churches, and manic hypocrisy are stirring up society. Or that’s what the media coverage is telling me.
It is heartwarming to see the solidarity that the #BlackLivesMatter movement has been able to gather. All the other things are kind of chilling.
Artists have responded creatively, which is why I’m writing about this, because this is not a political blog, but a blog that tries to celebrate the creative reflex of human beings.
Artists like Lauryn Hill, Common & John Legend and Janelle Monae are speaking out and being heard all over the world. Rumour has it that Jay Z and Beyoncé have even been bailing out protesters who ended up in jail.
Now my favourite rapper Nas speaks out too. Actually it’s a collaboration. Usher, Nas and Bibi Bourelly worked on the song “Chains” together, talking about the injustice and making people face the victims it has created, quite literally.
Yeah, yo check
I am Sugar Ray Robinson, Booker T. Washington
W. E. B. Du Bois, I’m the modern one
Yelling at Senators, Presidents, Congressmen
We got a problem that needs some acknowledgement
I am no prison commodity, not just a body you throw in a cell
For any reason, just to bother me
Just for your quota, so it’s rest in peace to Sean Bell
Sleep in peace Eric Garner (Sandra)
Every street, every corner
Conspiracy, new world order
I spoke to Tamir Rice mom and she told me “be strong”
It won’t be long ’til it’s justice
They won’t have votes but refuse the discussion
On how certain cops they shoot us for nothing
Revolution is coming” – Nas, Source: Genius.com
I say “literally”, because the track includes a video project, an interactive music video called “Don’t look away”. The visual experience forces viewers to focus on the faces and stories of different victims of extreme violence and racial injustice. If the viewer tries to look away, the music stops, until the eyes are back on the screen.
How? The artists used groundbreaking interactive technology to design the visual confrontation. The video technology tracks the viewer’s eyes. To do so the streaming service asks permission to access a user’s built-in camera. This way the technology senses immediately when the viewers look away from the screen, that’s the moment the technology stops the music, forcing the viewer to look back if they want to continue the track.
The video project can be experienced exclusively at chains.tidal.com.
Beneath you’ll find the video, but make sure to try the video experience as well. It’s part of the message and the way the artists intended their music to be heard.
Oh, and #peace, please.