Wyclef Jean dropped the music video for his Trayvon Martin tribute song , “Justice (If You’re 17),” on Friday, announcing its release on Twitter.
The artist and sometime politician first released the track on April 13, offering it as a free download. The song was produced by Prescribed and J. Williams (both also worked with the former Fugee on I Am, a short about racial profiling around the world, E! reports).
“If you’re 17/ and you’re wearing a hoodie/ You’re on the phone/ Talking to your shorty/ Make no mistake/ There’s one like you/ In every city/ You know the story,” Wyclef starts out in the song.
There’s no real effort at subtlety here; he lays out the story of young Martin as a Trayvon lookalike re-enacts his last tragic walk — talking to his girl, unaware that it’s his last phone call ever.
“If you’re 17 with a hoodie on/ watch out for the neighborhood watcher/ If you at the right neighborhood at the wrong time/ Neighborhood watcher/ This might be your last call to your girlfriend/ Neighborhood watcher/ Man, I feel for you, if you’re 17.”
Shots of a hoodie-clad Jean singing with the band are intercut throughout the video, and eventually we see another hooded figure, walking menacingly and then attacking Martin, tackling him to the ground, knocking his phone out of his hand. “He could have been the next President/ He could’ve been the next Steve Jobs,” Jean wails. The video ends with the sound of a gunshot.
Wyclef isn’t the first to create a song in memory of the Florida teen; Willie D. and Scarface of the rap group Geto Boys also came out with a song and video, “Hoodiez (The Trayvon Martin Justice Song!),” which features an even more graphic depiction of the attack. Both videos are intended to make viewers feel uncomfortable and queasy, and rightfully so. But there’s also something to perhaps be said for respect for Trayvon’s family and friends, who may not be ready to see his killing laid out so baldly.