Throughout the clip, Kweli raps in front of a piano decorated with candles. In his guest verse, Rick Ross gazes out at the city from a rooftop; vocalist Yummy Bingham, who belts the track’s soulful hook, hangs out in a tunnel illuminated by the headlights of passing cars.
Director Chris Smith’s tale of diverging familial paths nods to the song’s socially conscious lyrics, which touch on topics like police brutality and the right to protest. “Violent man will stock up on weapons and go to war for his/ Get post traumatic stress disorder, become an officer,” Kweli raps. “A man of peace uses his words in different mediums/ He’ll bleed for his beliefs, practicing civil disobedience.”
In a statement, Kweli dedicated the song to rap promoter “Headqcourterz” (real name Kenneth Joseph Walker), the late rap promoter who was brutally murdered in November 2002.
“When I was on Rawkus, there was a guy working there named Headqcouterz, a good friend of DJ Premier, whose spirit was so beautiful that he would brighten any room he would enter,” Kweli wrote. “He lost his life years ago, but there was one thing he used to say each and every time he said goodbye – ‘Heads Up, Eyes Open.’ This phrase has stuck with me and become a guide thru my career and life. Produced by J. Rhodes, ‘Heads Up, Eyes Open’ is a song dedicated to the memory of Headqcourterz. It is a song about how faith informs the way an artist moves and creates. It was a pleasure to be joined by Rick Ross and Yummy Bingham, two of my favorite artists.”
“Heads Up Eyes Open,” which Kweli released last week, appears on the rapper’s upcoming LP, Radio Silence, out November 17th.