Usher has released a new video, that compels viewers to hold the gaze of victims of police brutality and racially motivated murders. The new song, Chains, also features Nas and Berlin-born Bibi Bourelly, who wrote Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money.”
After being told that, “While racial injustice keeps killing, society keeps looking away,” viewers are invited to “start looking” and enable their web cam. The song then begins with the words, “Don’t look away” on-screen, pictures of various unarmed victims appear one after another, with a brief description of the incident that caused each death. If the viewer looks away, the video stops and the words, “Don’t look away” reappear.
Among the victims staring viewers in the face in the powerful montage are Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Caesar Cruz, Ramarley Graham, Kendrick Johnson, Marlon Brown, Andrew Joseph, and Sean Bell. It closes with the words, “Facing the facts is the first step towards change.”
The interactive experience was created by agency AKQA and Jay Z’s streaming platform Tidal, which has the song streaming exclusively. Those without webcams or users who don’t want to opt-in and enable the facial recognition technology can still view the song in the standard way. An accompanying “Look Deeper” website goes into greater detail about each victim’s story.
Usher will perform “Chains” for the first time at the Tidal X 1020 Amplified by HTC concert on October 20. Proceeds from the concert will go to organizations that promote social impact and change.