Chris Brown has never been one to shy away from controversy. From his run-ins with the law to his abusive behavior to his frightening artwork, the hip-hop artist has dabbled in a fair share of contentious issues. For his most recent project, Brown is tackling the topic of gang violence.
In the new video for his latest single “Don’t Think They Know,” the singer acts as a peacemaker between two rival gangs (with several not-so-thinly veiled references to the Bloods and Crips). Opening with the statistic, “Every two hours in America today a child dies of a gunshot wound,” the clip depicts Chris Brown singing throughout Compton, sometimes leading gangs and at other times with children on school steps. “Don’t Think They Know” samples music from Aaliyah, but the video pays tribute to the late singer in an even bigger way. In several shots of Brown dancing, he is flanked by holographic images of Aaliyah; the video concludes with the message, “Dear Aaliyah, We love and miss you, thank you for inspiring us all.”
The tribute to Aaliyah is admittedly touching, though it might be much meaningful more if it came from a different artist. We can’t help but think that it’s a little hypocritical of Chris Brown to be preaching against violence not only for his abuse of girlfriend Rihanna, but for even more recent headline-making brawls with Frank Ocean and Drake.
Brown’s upcoming album X drops on July 16.