Earlier this week, Common helped debut a film he played a pivotal part in bringing to life: Selma director Ava DuVernay’s new documentary 13th. Available now on Netflix, 13th delivers a thorough investigation of the U.S. prison system’s mass incarceration of African-Americans, positioning the systemic injustices as a sort of “modern-day slavery.” 13th‘s architect Ava DuVernay connected with Common — who she previously worked with for Selma — for the inclusion of his song “Letter to the Free” in her new piece. “I was really inspired and the situation was heavy on my heart … I was very passionate about being a part of this,” Common is quoted as saying in Billboard. Further supporting the track and the film it helped soundtrack, Common decided to debut a powerful, fitting new visual for the record.
Teaming up with acclaimed cinematographer and director Bradford Young, Common has cooked up a video for the Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper-assisted “Letter to the Free.” “We dealt with the whole subject matter from slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration which is what we’re dealing with right now … We wanted to make something that was strong, unapologetic, but that was also hopeful,” explains Common. Featuring guest appearances from Bilal and Andra Day, the visual for “Letter to the Free” is available for viewing above.