CMA Awards 2018

Tory Lanez Tackles Police Brutality in 'Shooters' Video: Premiere

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Tory Lanez, "Shooters"

If you’ve been following Tory Lanez for a while, you’d notice the rapper has a knack for storytelling. On his debut album I Told You, Lanez laced the 14-track effort with skits detailing his rise from homelessness to the top of charts -- and with a new album in sight, the 25-year-old rapper is ready to unearth a new chapter.

After feeding the streets with the imminent album’s first single “Shooters,” the Canadian native returns with the visual accompaniment, which Billboard is premiering exclusively below, where he provides an alternative perspective on what would happen if victims of police brutality flip the script and seek revenge. 

Senseless killings wrought by policemen are plaguing the African-American community and Tory begins the visual with a quote that reads, “Sometimes the only justice is injustice.” Tory and a friend are seen sneaking into a residential building to avenge the death of a cousin who was killed at the hands of a police officer and as the story unfolds, Tory quickly learns that violence only begets violence.

The video’s concept was inspired by the harrowing documentary Time: The Kalief Browder Story. Browder was accused of stealing a backpack and served three years at Rikers Island for the crime, spending much of his time in solitary confinement. While Browder wasn’t exactly killed by a police officer, he was victim to multiple brutal beatings and torture during his time at Rikers, which prompted him to attempt suicide on multiple occasions. Upon release from prison, Browder committed suicide in 2015, just a few days after his 22nd birthday.

“His story had me surfing the internet to research all the different cases of people who were wrongfully charged and looking up the rate of how many unarmed black people get shot in a year – well in the last year – and then how many of those officers were indicted. It was over hundreds of deaths and the percentage of the officers who were convicted was below one percent,” he tells Billboard of his discoveries. He says he wanted the visual to tell the story from the perspective of someone who has experienced a loved one being killed by a police officer and how the story would play out if the tables were turned.

“I imagined that there are times when those families have thought, “What if I could go kill the officer who killed my son or nephew?” he continues. “What I’m trying to preach and show with this message is no matter how you may feel about it, violence is not the answer. Even with the cops, killing us ain’t the answer either.”

As Lanez and his friend leave the home of the cop they killed, they are greeted by two white officers who question the two about their plans for the rest of the night. With guns aimed at their bodies, the men calmly respond to the officers and raise their arms up in a “Hands up, don’t shoot” gesture to make it clear they’re not looking for trouble. Despite their efforts, Tory’s friend ends up getting shot to death leading Tory to whip out his weapon to fire back at the cops and ends up dying as well, reminiscent of Cleo’s death scene from the 1996 thriller Set It Off.  

The rest of the visual finds the “Luv” crooner surrounded by women toting guns spliced with clips of men getting arrested and an American flag with bullet holes painted on the back of a woman. The short film ends with a dead body laid out on the concrete floor as flowers spread across the body to symbolize the innocence of unarmed people dying.

Lanez says his mission is to get a message across, and not be the next Tupac. “My name is Daystar Peterson. What my name stands for is 'light of progression' to my generation -- that’s the purpose of my name. Sometimes, I feel like there are times when I feel like I have to go to those dark places to show people the light. The song may not be the most 'conscious' song, but it’ll make you listen so much that you’ll want to watch the video and you’ll get the message from there.”

Watch the video for "Shooters" below.