It was fitting that Run the Jewels recruited Zack de la Rocha for a guest verse on the awesomely titled track “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” from the duo’s hit album. The song is full of political and prison-riot imagery, which was certainly De la Rocha’s bag in his former job as frontman for Rage Against the Machine–a band whose music was featured in the prison-riot scene in Natural Born Killers, and generally sounded like a prison riot. While the presence of this guest may be a throwback to the ’90s, Run the Jewels just put out a video for the song, and it’s as topical as it gets.
Even without going into Starbucks last week, most Americans still remember what happened in Ferguson and New York City last fall. The deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown served as dual flashpoints, igniting rage around the country about police violence against unarmed black men. Run the Jewels–the team made up of indie-rap troublemakers Killer Mike and El-P–tap into that reservoir of rage in the “Close Your Eyes” video, which is centered around a clash between a white police officer and an unarmed black man.
As directed by AG Rojas, the fight between these two is highly cinematic, but also raw and real. The cop (Boardwalk Empire’s Shea Whigham) and the young man (Short Term 12’s Keith Stanfield) are out of breath to begin with, and their fighting involves the kind of sloppy shoving and throttling that only occurs when people suddenly find themselves in a fight. Their long, protracted battle is shot practically uninterrupted, in stark black and white, and without any explanation–all of which work towards painting both sides as humans, no matter where viewers’ sympathies lie.