Filmed in black-and-white, the prison bell rings. A man’s wrinkled hands grip the bars and another man stretches his arms through them.
In the office, the key sits on the table next to some cigarettes and a pen. A third man smokes, the ashes falling to the floor. The ward walk through the hall, keys in hand.
With some light reflecting on him, Jay Z steps to the spotlight, prisoners standing behind him in a clean row, their hands folded by their hips.
Outside the prison exit, DJ Khaled and Future as well as other men stand wearing suits and ties as the guards rest their guns on their shoulders, preparing for a riot.
The warden walks past the cells. The man, who was smoking, is walking. His sheet rumpled on his cot. A single lightbulb dangles. Another man smokes and presses his thumbs together as he sits. A third man picks up his guitar. A rose wilts on his nightstand. Unfolding a some paper, a man shows off his knife.
As Jay Z raps, the prisoners shuffle around on the broken tile. One man does push ups. Two argue as they play basketball. Other prisoners break up the fight.
Outside, the guards stand at every pole and cover every inch of the roof. A dog barks at the men.
Led by a warden, Jay Z walks under the flourescent lights, in a rectangle on the ceiling. A man wiggles his fingers and Jay Z nods at him.
The man, who was playing the guitar, looks at the lightbulb in his cell. A skeletal man prays with rosary beads between his fingers.
Jay Z taps a man’s hand as he walks through the hallway. He is eyed as he turns the corner to the exit by the guard. He takes his sunglasses out of shirt and puts them on. The light gathers in the exit as he walks out.
2 Chainz calls out as Jay Z walks between two guards to return to the group. He adjusts his tie. T.I. gestures. The lightbulb dangles.
Keys, in the video, become a symbol for power. For DJ Khaled, Jay Z and Future, it’s the keys to their luxury cars. With their status, they have a voice and won’t back down from it. It’s what also keeps the guards at bay.
The guards’ power is in the hallway as they stroll down the hallway, carrying keys which can help determine if a man can leave his cell. They can choose to ignore the prisoners or beat the baton in the hands, letting them know who has the authority.
In the United States, the police have become politicized. They are the ones facing their pensions getting stripped from the government amid the now commonplace killing of unarmed black men .Undervalued by the government and with racial stereotyping occurring, the police force in America is broken.
DJ Khaled, Jay Z and Future stand in peaceful protest, challenging the officers to voice their prejudice out loud. They are dressed as businessmen, neutralizing any threat by not wearing casual clothes, while they physically proclaiming their lives matter. However, the police, standing outside in riot gear, believe violence is a given. It is already seen as a criminal act. It is the average American’s point of view of the First Amendment.
The right to assemble is protected speech. DJ Khaled, Jay Z and Future aren’t in any violation yet the police are armed, with their dog, ready to fight at the suggestion of wrong movement. The point being, is if Jay Z were to reach inside his pocket, one police officer could think it was a gun and shoot. The gun goes off, Jay Z gets shot and then memes are spread throughout Facebook reading Blue Lives Matter.
Until those memes go away, these type of political videos need to exist to prove a point.
Director: Sam Lecca Year: 2016
This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from items purchased through them