On Sept. 7, former band member of Gentlemen Hall, Cobi, released a music video for his solo single debut “Don’t You Cry For Me.” The video sparked controversy almost immediately after its release due to images of a Black man being hanged.
The Shade Room, a high-following Instagram account and website for entertainment news, was one of the first social media outlets to post about Cobi’s disputable music video. The Shade Room created the conversation, bringing fresh exposure to Cobi as a new solo artist in the music world.
Angelica Nwandu, founder of The Shade Room, interviewed Cobi for The Huffington Post where he explains the inspiration behind the song and video.
“The song was written around the time when Michael Brown was killed, Baltimore was uprising, and people around the country were protesting. There’s no denying the epidemic of police shooting unarmed black people. I hate seeing my friends living in fear and just had to speak what was in my heart and say what I felt needed to be said,” Cobi remarked.
Several YouTube members commented on the video. Janelle Guild said “I like the song but I cannot watch the video. It is too graphic for me.”
Another YouTube member, Ny’Asia Outlaw, said “I, as an African American woman think this video is very powerful as well as the song. I thank you for being as woke as you are and making this.”
The YouTube user Chrislove Ulysse, said “I love this because not only are the cutting the root of the problem (the tree) them cutting down that tree won’t save the one man already hanging but it will save future black men from being hung at that same tree.”
On Cobi’s official Facebook page, he responded to the chatter by writing a post thanking social media outlets such as The Shade Room for giving him “a platform to talk about the ongoing issue of police brutality and social injustice.”
He also stated, on the official Shade Room website, that his video is “a mashup of time periods and it feels as though this sort of injustice is still possible.”
People from all over the web had varying opinions on how Cobi represented the issue he wanted to address through this music video. Some people interpreted Cobi’s method as a way of bringing the issues of black lives full force. Others felt that the images were insensitive and too heavily displayed.
Debra Oh, a writer for the official Shade Room website, said “Cobi’s video isn’t about him, in fact the main character is a black man who is involved in an accidental shooting of a police officer and hanged for it while his white friend is let off the hook. We’ve seen this story before and yet very few music videos shed light on it.”
The video ultimately did what Cobi had hoped; It brought attention to the issue of social injustice. As music often does, it gives artists opportunity to express themselves through their work and use their platforms to address the issues that they find important. Take Marvin Gaye’s song “What’s Going On” for example.
The video is available to view on Cobi’s official artist YouTube page.