“Chains” condemns a culture of violence against black Americans.
Usher and Nas released a new interactive music video for their politically-charged, anti-police violence song, “Chains”, which forces viewers to look at the faces of victims of police brutality, like Trayvon Martin and Rekia Boyd. The video urges you not to turn away as their photos appear on the screen, along with their names and the stories of their deaths at the hands of police officers. The video uses you computer’s webcam to recognize your face, so that the song pauses any time you turn away from the screen (this means that you have to give Tidal permission to access your camera at the beginning of the video). The words “Don’t look away” flash on the screen every time the song is paused.
“We in chains,” goes the song’s hook. The lyrics condemn a culture of violence against black lives in the U.S., not only referencing police shooting but even possibly making a reference to the Charleston church shootings with these words: "American school and we in church too / Shooting, shooting, shooting, we the prey." Nas’ solo verses shout out Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, and call out politicians and legislators for their failure to make black Americans feel safer. “They won’t hav votes but refuse the discussion,” he raps, “On how cops stay shooting us for nothing. Revolution in coming.”
The video is available to watch for free on Tidal.