(Photo credit: Raymond Flotat)
After an appearance at Austin’s South By Southwest last week, which included the hair-raising moment of the duo being attacked onstage, along with a lot of good times, rap duo Run The Jewels are making headlines once again. This week, they have released a powerful music video for their song, “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck),” which features Zack de la Rocha.
“Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” is a piece that is as much music video as it is modern day social commentary on the highly controversial and often polarizing issue of racially-motivated violence.
The AG Rojas-directed music video stars Shea Whigham of Boardwalk Empire as a white police officer. Cast opposite Whigham, in the role of the young black male unarmed man is actor Keith Stanfield, who took on the role of the real-life victim of excessive force, Jimmie Lee Jackson, in the 2015 film, Selma. When, the audience tunes into the video, they are met by the image of Stanfield struggling to catch his breath after a violent struggle with Whigham that seemingly has no concrete purpose, nor a beginning or end, in sight.
Examining the video from a lyrical and musical standpoint as well, Run The Jewels have sculpted a song that is hard hitting, even including some course language, but it is clearly borne from a place of deep anger and sadness.
In a press release, Rojas explained that upon hearing the Run The Jewels song and lyrics, he felt a sense of responsibility to create a film that will serve to be thought provoking and potentially help to facilitate a conversation about the senseless nature of this type of violence, without completely stripping away human emotions.
“For me, it was important to write a story that didn’t paint a simplistic portrait of the characters of the Cop and Kid. They’re not stereotypes. They’re people – complex, real people and, as such, the power had to shift between them at certain points throughout the story. The film begins and it feels like they have been fighting for days, they’re exhausted, not a single punch is thrown, their violence is communicated through clumsy, raw emotion. They’ve already fought their way past their judgments and learned hatred toward one another. Our goal was to highlight the futility of the violence, not celebrate it,” Rojas said.
The characters’ fight scenes are orchestrated and filmed in way that succeeds in making the viewer feel as though he or she is there watching the confrontation unfold. It is messy, and that is reflective of the act of fighting itself – both inside and all around the house, and outside in the street and on the sidewalk – as well as the situation of police brutality and the issue of racially-motivated violence.
Rapper Killer Mike hit the nail squarely on the head when he said, in a press release, that “[t]here is no neat solution at the end because there is no neat solution in the real world.”
Check out the thought provoking video below.