Common, Lil Herb, King Louie and other Chicago rappers have united to promote the “Music vs. Gun Violence” campaign, asking their city to “Put the Guns Down” in an interactive music video. With Chicago having exceeded 2,300 gun-related crimes so far in 2015, their message is urgent.
The clip opens with a title card explaining, “In Chicago, someone is shot every three hours.” Common observes a “whole city surrounded by chalk outlines” over Anthony “The Twilite Tone” Khan’s gritty beat, built on looped piano and gunshots; other Chi-Town natives (Lil Herb, King Louie, Katie Got Bandz, Saba, Tree, Noname Gypsy, Treated Crew’s Mic Terror and Nick Jr.) add explosive guest spots between a chorus pleading with people to put down their weapons.
The initiative, started by non-profit Chicago Ideas in conjunction with ad agency Leo Burnett, encourages others to join the movement by submitting their own guest verses to the video through their website and by using the hashtag #PutTheGunsDown on social media. The campaign site also features testimony about the horrors of gun violence from several Chicago natives – including some of the artists who created “Put the Guns Down.”
“Gun violence didn’t make itself aware to me until I was already out of Chicago, living somewhere else,” said Khan. “Chicago struggles so much with gun violence because of the lack of outlet – whether it’s emotional, physical, creative.”
The campaign aims to “spark ideas into tangible social action” by “bringing together musicians, activists and social and community leaders to take a stand against one of our city’s greatest challenges.”
“This initiative needed to accomplish two things: It had to have a broad impact and it had to provide a means for people to speak with a unified voice against one of the largest issues facing the city of Chicago,” Brian Shembeda, EVP, creative director at Leo Burnett Chicago, said in a statement. “This is a problem that no single person nor organization can solve. It’s something we have to address together.”