clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Watch: Usher's gripping new protest video forces you to face the dead

"While racial injustice keeps killing, society keeps looking away."

So begins a gripping new video from Tidal, the streaming music company started by Jay Z, featuring Usher, Nas, and Bibi Bourelly. "Chains" was released this morning for free, a rarity from the service, and it's a solid song with a thumping beat that will get stuck in your chest for weeks if you let it. But that's almost beside the point. "Chains" is, first and foremost, a protest song — and its video literally won't let you look away.

When you open the page for "Chains," it prompts you to activate your webcam, and then makes sure it can see your face. The video then starts a haunting montage of unarmed people of color who have been killed by police (Sean Bell, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice) and others (Trayvon Martin). More stories can be found on Tidal's accompanying "Look Deeper" feature. Usher rips through the passionate lyrics before finally settling into a loop: "We still in chains."

The video is compelling, in the most literal sense of the word. If your attention wanders, the song pauses, and a command appears on the screen: "DON'T LOOK AWAY."

While the internet provides crucial spaces for underserved voices, there are always countless distractions just a click away. But "Chains" insists on you participating, listening, and focusing, as you stare death and injustice in the face.

Correction: In the original post, Trayvon Martin was listed as having been killed by the police, when he was not.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.