Run the Jewels dove into heavy topics of racism and police brutality in their excellent 2014 album Run the Jewels 2. Now, the hip-hop duo expands on those themes with help from director A.G. Rojas in the new video for standout single “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha.
Starring Keith Stanfield, whose breakout role came in the moving foster care drama Short Term 12, and Shea Whigham from Boardwalk Empire and Agent Carter, the video depicts two men wrestling each other for what seems like hours. One is a uniformed, white police officer, and the other is a young black man that he’s been chasing. The fight is exhausting, and we see the fatigue setting in on the two characters until night falls and they finally both give in at the home of Stanfield’s character. It’s a moving, human portrait of racial tensions and violence set in miniature, and a perfect fit for the politically-charged single.
Rojas said of the short:
“We had to exploit the lyrics and aggression and emotion of the track, and translate that into a film that would ignite a valuable and productive conversation about racially motivated violence in this country. It’s provocative, and we all knew this, so we were tasked with making something that expressed the intensity of senseless violence without eclipsing our humanity. 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 way past their judgments and learned hatred toward one another. Our goal was to highlight the futility of the violence, not celebrate it.”