His music streaming service Tidal partnered with Harry Belafonte’ssocial justice organization, Sankofa.org, for an exclusive protest video inspired by slain teen Trayvon Martin and others who have died by the hands of racial and/or police violence. This month marks the five-year anniversary of the teen’s death— he was 17 when he was shot and killed in Florida by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, Newsweek pointed out.
17, a beautiful 17-minute visual EPfeatures music by Ty Dolla $ign and Big TC (“No Justice”), Raphael Saadiq (“The Answer”), Mali Music (“Drama”) and Elijah Blake (“Hanging Tree”). Written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, 17 conveys a day in the life of 17-year-old Jacobi Nelson, a beloved son and brother on the cusp of a college scholarship, who has fatally wounded by police.
For the creators, this project represents the countless young people whose lives are tragically cut short.
“We want to remind you that so many of these kids don’t see their 18th birthday,” Gerard Bush tells Newsweek. Bush also notes that this type of violence isn’t relegated to the inner city or impoverished communities.
“What happened to Trayvon was in a gated community in Florida. You’ve got these kids from middle-class backgrounds that are still seen through the prism of racial bias and often that costs them their lives.”
Bush also gives props to Jay Z and his wife Beyoncé for their dedication to combatting police and state violence in Black America.
“Jay Z and Beyoncé are very serious about social justice work. They speak through action rather than talk—[releasing] 17 is a great illustration of that,” he stressed.
Now if you want more of 17, don’t worry: It will be followed up soon with a full-length album that features the four tracks used in the EP, and new songs by the likes of John Legend and Sting.