Usher released a compelling new video for his collaboration with Nas and rising star Bibi Bourelly, “Chains.” The somber black and white clip features a tearful Usher interspersed with protesters mouthing Nas’ powerful verse, the destruction of plaster guns, handcuffs and chains — weapons used to snatch away the freedom to move and live. In a dark twist, the video ends with the singer’s own closed-casket funeral.
The imagery is heavy-handed, but it almost needs to be to carry the burdensome subject matter. This is what black men, women and children are experiencing on a regular basis throughout the United States today. The psychological toll of watching others that look like you get snuffed out while shopping in department stores, playing in parks or walking home, then having to explain why it shouldn’t happen, is quite heavy. Hence, why “Chains” reflects the deep sadness that accompanies mourning the loss of a life while being forced to justify why that life deserved to exist in the first place.
The song and its video are a great example of art reflecting what the listeners actually experience every day. We need more like it. Check out Usher and Nas’ live performance of the track here.