Usher and Nas have teamed for an interactive music video for Usher’s politically charged “Chains,” which debuted exclusively on Tidal. “Chains” literally forces the viewer to confront the issue of racial profiling and police brutality head-on: By utilizing the webcam on the viewer’s computer as well as facial recognition technology, “Chains” will pause mid-song whenever the viewer’s eyes deviate from the video. “Don’t look away,” the video demands, only resuming when the viewers’ eyes lock back on the screen.
“While racial injustice keeps killing, society keeps looking away,” the video prefaces before fading onto a photo of Trayvon Martin. “Walking home from a store, Trayvon was profiled as a potential criminal by a neighbor armed with a gun, The man shot Trayvon dead. He was found not guilty.”
Usher’s eerily sparse, powerful “Chains” accompany the images. “We’re still in chains / You put the shame on us,” he sings on the track that also tackles our nation’s gun problem. “Moment of silence / American school and we in church too / Shooting, shooting, shooting, we the prey.”
With eyes affixed on the screen, “Chains” examines more lives lost from inexcusable racial profiling, including Rekia Boyd, Marlon Brown, Ramarley Graham and Caesar Cruz. In the latter case, “Innocent of any crime, Caesar was cornered in his car by five police officers and fatally shot 15 times. He was still strapped in his seatbelt. No one has been charged.”
“I’m the modern one yelling at senators, presidents, congressmen / Saying we have a problem in need of acknowledging,” Nas rhymes. “I am no prison commodity / Not just a body you throw in a cell / For any reason, just to bother me.” Nas’ verse also pays tribute to Sean Bell, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, three unarmed black men who were killed by the police.
Usher will debut “Chains” live at the all-star Tidal X: 1020 concert on October 20th at Brooklyn’s Barclays Arena. The charity gig, which will benefit the New World Foundation, also features Beyoncé, Jay Z, Prince, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Meek Mill and many more.