The official music video for the hip-hop duo Run The Jewels’ song “Close Your Eyes” does not shy away from the hot button topic of police brutality.
The group, which consists of socially-conscious rappers Killer Mike and El-P, pitched the fast-paced, aggressive song to the director AG Rojas who released the video Thursday.
According to the Run The Jewels website, Rojas saw the project as an opportunity to “exploit the lyrics and aggression and emotion of the track, and translate that into a film that would ignite a valuable and productive conversation about racially motivated violence in this country.”
Between Killer Mike, El-P, collaborator Zack de La Rocha’s lyrics and Rojas’ vision, the finished product is a powerful portrayal of the historic tension between white officers and unarmed young black men. The short film opens with actor Keith Stanfield, who played the role of real-life victim of excessive force, Jimmie Lee Jackson, in “Selma,” as a young presumed perpetrator catching his breath after an endless wrestling tug-of-war with an officer, played by “Boardwalk Empire” actor Shea Whighman.
The two characters exhaust each other in a choreographed exchange of physical power. At one point, the “suspect” is pinned to the street and nearly handcuffed, and in another moment he has the officer in a chokehold.
“For me, it was important to write a story that didn’t paint a simplistic portrait of the characters of the Cop and Kid,” Rojas said on the Run the Jewels website. “They’re not stereotypes. They’re people – complex, real people and, as such, the power had to shift between them at certain points throughout the story.”
Finally done battling, they end-up sitting on a bed recovering from the fight. According to Rojas, “Our goal was to highlight the futility of the violence, not celebrate it.”