Keedron Bryant, the 13-year-old viral star who landed a major label contract due to his inspiring George Floyd tribute anthem “I Just Wanna Live,” released a provocative video for the track on Monday (July 27). Bryant then unleashed a new version of the track with Andra Day, Lucky Daye and IDK on Thursday (July 30).
After gaining attention in late May with a home-brewed smartphone video for the song about the perils of being a young black man in America, Bryant is back with a visual directed by Sara Lacombe that captures the urgency of his message.
The clip opens with a group of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as a giant American flag drips blood above them. Bryant, on his knees, croons the refrain, “I just wanna live/ God protect me/ I’m a young Black,” as an angry white police officer points a gun in his face while a group of young people surround him.
The simple, but har-hitting lyrics of the song, fleshed out into a three-minute, slow-burning soul stirrer, are enhanced by Lacombe’s stark imagery, including a black hoodie with Skittles in the pocket in a reference to the murder of Trayvon Martin, as well as shots of an American flag tied into a noose, a hanging bundle of handcuffs and chains and the sight of Bryant begging for his life as the officer stands unmoved.
At one point, a Black body painted with the names of Eric Brown, Floyd, Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor and other Black men and women who died at the hands of police fills the screen, with Bryant standing trapped in the middle of a circle of American flags pointed at his neck like weapons. In a nod to the protests across the nation over the past two months in the wake of the police-caused killed of Floyd in Minneapolis, the visual also depicts clashes with police, offering a glimmer of hope for reconciliation in the final frames.
Bryant earned praise from LeBron James, gospel great Kirk Franklin, Katy Perry and former Pres. Barack Obama, among many others, for his powerful a cappella anthem.
Check out both the “I Just Wanna Live” video, and the new star-studded version, below.