Run the Jewels just released a chilling political allegory of a video for their standout track "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)," which features Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha on the hook and the last verse. Shot in black and white, the video is black versus white: a cop and a kid, fighting and mourning and giving up and then fighting again—almost amnesiacs in a bloody personal conflict they seem to have born into, fully formed, and which will take them to the grave. The larger parallels are obvious, and they're also beautifully, shakily, heartbreakingly and almost quietly drawn here—like in the moment when the kid breaks into a house and pours milk all over his eyes, startlingly white against his skin.
A statement from director AG Rojas:
For me, it was important to write a story that didn't paint a simplistic portrait of the characters of the Cop and Kid. 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. The film begins and it feels like they have been fighting for days, they're exhausted, not a single punch is thrown, their violence is communicated through clumsy, raw emotion. They've already fought their ways past their judgements and learned hatred toward one another. Our goal was to highlight the futility of the violence, not celebrate it.
Incidentally, this song contains a few of my favorite lines off RTJ's last album: A dirty boy who comes down on the side of dissonance, and We killin them for freedom 'cause they tortured us for boredom/ and even if some good ones die, fuck it, the Lord'll sort 'em. With a few exceptions, rap's been low on both political vision and productive dissonance in recent years—and that's just one of the reasons why Run the Jewels is irreplaceable. For more, here's the interview I did with Killer Mike and El-P last week.