Back in April, R&B king the-Dream released a new song, “Black,” that traded in his usual strip-club-friendly beats and bedroom-focused lyrics for anthemic sweep and a political message inspired by Nelson Mandela’s death. It was miles away from the Dream that so many of us know and love with a ridiculous, almost cultish avidity, but he managed to stick the tricky landing; “Black” is like one of R. Kelly’s patented Inspiration Jams without the shlockiness that those usually come with, or the creepy feeling that you’re getting life advice from a sexual predator.
“Black” launched with a lyric video cut together out of footage of political activism in progress, ranging from Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the black power salute at the 1968 Olympics to Pussy Riot marching defiantly down a crowded Russian street. Today he dropped the song’s official video, which continues the political theme with an almost surreally broad coalition of protesters marching against racism, classism, homophobia, Wall Street, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, violence in Chicago, and what seems like dozens of other causes. The video’s message may be a tad muddled (especially when you factor in the singer’s recent arrest on assault charges), but with the-Dream flexing a newfound ability to manipulate emotional switches beyond horniness and regret, it still hits. It’s probably not a coincidence that it’s dropping right before a day commemorating revolutionary political activity.
Watch the video below. (It may be NSFW because of brief female toplessness.)