A depressing fact of America in 2015 is that basically any week that Prince was going to release the music video for “Baltimore,” his joyful/mournful anthem ode to black lives and black resistance, was going to be a timely week for the video to be released. And late July, while protesters are in the streets of Waller, Texas, seeking answers about what happened to Sandra Bland, definitely qualifies.
The song, which was released in May, opines that “peace is not the absence of war,” and urges listeners that “enough is enough, it’s time to hear the guitar play.” Those themes are even more potent in the video, which blends footage from the protests in Baltimore over the alleged murder of Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore police officers with the song’s lyrics and signs that get animated to deliver messages like “In Solidarity With Black Moms” and to get populated with the names of Reykia Boyd, Tarika Wilson, Aiyanna Jones, and other black women whose lives have been lost in recent years, too. It’s a potent look at how the world is changing, and how it needs to change, that ends with a statement from the Artist himself: “The system is broken. It’s going to take the young people to fix it this time. We need new ideas, new life.”