Music Notes

Usher's 'Chains' Video Makes A Powerful Statement Against Police Brutality

"With liberty and justice for all?"

Superstar singer and showman Usher has kept his musical profile pretty lighthearted over the last couple years. After all, who didn't love the playful, Nicki Minaj-assisted "She Came to Give It to You" and the flirtatious, hypnotic melody of "Good Kisser"?

But Mr. Raymond is out with a new music video that's sure to make viewers think pretty deeply about some heavy topics.

(Some NSFW language below, so be careful when pushing play.)


The new clip for "Chains," which premiered on Tidal, is showcased entirely in black-and-white visuals, and features Usher behind a chainlink fence (likely symbolizing being locked in a prison cell), in a church (at what looks to be his own funeral), and in the back of a police car, appearing to have been arrested and with a single tear falling down his face.

The scenes seem to directly take on the issue of police brutality against Black Americans, and are juxtaposed with people holding signs reading "Am I next?" and of guns, chains and handcuffs shattering into dozens of piece upon hitting the ground.

"Will liberty and justice for all," says a young child's voice near the beginning of the clip, before asking, "justice for all?" It's one of the heartbreaking moments seen throughout the video, and one that gets right a the gut of those watching it. 

"Chains" — which features rapper Nas and singer Bibi Bourelly — was produced in collaboration with Film The Future, whose Daniel Arsham was the lucky Twitter user Usher utilized when announcing that his forthcoming album would be titled Flawed. No word if "Chains" will appear on that album, but the video was shown during the Art for Social Justiceexhibit at Urban Zen in New York City, which was sponsored by Amnesty International's Art for Amnesty program.

Check out the full video above (remember, some NSFW language), that draws much of its inspiration from the tragic events in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, and other cities around the country.

Cover image: UsherVEVO


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.