Lin Manuel Miranda doesn’t appear in the “Immigrants” video, but it has some powerful imagery that resonates in light of the current political climate in the world.
Borrowing its theme from the excellent and weird 2013 Korean action fantasy thriller Snowpiercer, which had a lot to say about class relations itself, the “Immigrants” video instead features four passionate MCs going for broke over a militant, driving beat from producer Trooko.
K’Naan, a Somali Canadian, Snow Tha Product, a Chicano child of Mexican immigrants, Riz Mc, a British Pakistani whose parents moved from Pakistan to England in the 1970s, and Residente, a Puerto Rican rapper from San Juan, all relate their experiences growing up as immigrants or first generation citizens of their respective nations, highlighting the way that America (and England) exploit the cheap labor provided by immigrants while still only affording them second class status.
They are surrounded throughout by representatives of the industries many immigrants must enter to make a living in their adopted homelands: Sewing in sweatshops and factories, picking fruit, and performing dangerous construction tasks, all while hiding out from authorities who would mistreat them or return them to war-torn nations, regardless of their contributions to American society.
It’s a somber reflection on the hypocrisy of America’s prosperity; as Snow says in her verse, “Peter Piper claim he picked ’em — he just underpaid Pablo.” Although they’ve come a long way, there’s still a long way to go. And still they get the job done. Watch it above.