”Please help me chop this tree down.” This is the powerful message behind the controversial and daring song/video released by Cobi: a white artist with a voice full of power & soul who dared to use his platform to bring awareness to a topic that is boiling in the black community. In a time where the #BlackLivesMatter movement is constantly being diminished by #AllLivesMatter protestors while the black man is theoretically hanged by systematic injustice, it is a breath of fresh air to see a visual demonstration of what is happening in this country: a literal and explosive depiction that many black artists are afraid to portray.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Cobi and Kevin Liles (one of the founders of the record company 300) to have a round table discussion about the song and visual for “Don’t You Cry For Me” and how it relates to the issue of police brutality and racial injustice that we are facing today.
Angie: First, tell us how you came to know Kevin and how he got involved with this project.
Cobi: I met Kevin when I signed with 300. He’s a huge believer in the project and has been on board from the very beginning.
Kevin: One of the things we wanted when we started  was to find unique artists that want the freedom to express who they are. We were gifted with a great talent in Cobi.
A: I think we can all agree that the video is daring and controversial. Kevin, when you first watched the video what was your reaction? Especially the part where the young black man is hanged. How did you feel?
K: I come from an era where there were records called “Fuck the Police” and “911 is a Joke.” At that time, I stood beside those artists because they were telling the truth.
I wasn’t shocked, I was excited that someone wanted to stand up and take a song and put a message behind it visually that I think will be a great conversation piece.
What’s not the truth in this video? Have people been harmed? Yes they have. Have people been racially profiled? Yes they have. Have there been incidents where you have civilians and cops getting into things? Yes we have. All of these things that we see every day are in this video, so how can anyone have a problem with the truth?
Things are really getting out of hand, and we need to find some kind of change, some kind of revolution.
A: Cobi what influenced you to do a video on this topic? Were you influenced by friends, do you have a personal connection to police brutality, or are you simply moved by what’s been happening in the news?
C: It’s a bit of both. 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.
A: Can you tell us about the filming process, the energy and what happened that day? It’s a very powerful video so I can imagine it may have gotten emotional on set.
C: It was really intense and emotionally demanding for everyone on set. It was me, the cast/crew, and my friends from Peace4Kids who volunteered to be in the video. We started with the hanging scene because we knew it would be the most difficult to shoot. When you see people crying, those were real tears.
A: What is your opinion on the controversy of ‘All Lives Matter’ compared to ‘Back Lives Matter’? In the video, a police officer ends up being shot on accident. Not too long ago 3 officers were killed in Baton Rouge, some people may take this as a statement. Can you tell us your intentions behind it?
C: I find it troubling that people try to diffuse the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement at all. Saying “Save the Rainforest” isn’t saying “other forests don’t matter.” Same thing applies to Black Lives Matter.
Our intentions behind the shooting scene was to show how quickly things can escalate, and how everyone is negatively affected by violence.
A: Thanks Cobi, and Kevin.
We talk about artists like Beyoncé who support ‘Black Lives Matter’ but it is so nice to have someone that is not black bringing attention to the movement and not just ‘All Lives Matter.’ It is very important to highlight that ‘Black Lives Matter’ because this is what we are going through right now. Black lives are being shot and killed for no reason.
At The Shade Room we cover a lot of entertainment and gossip. At the same time, it’s so important for us to highlight the stories that surround Black Lives Matter. While serving entertainment to the community, I feel a responsibility to bring attention to these stories that don’t get a lot of light in main stream media. Things are really getting out of hand, and we need to find some kind of change, some kind of revolution.