"Unity is what we are afraid of, so fear is insanity, let's love each other." This text, attributed as a quote from "Not CB, just Christopher," runs in the opening seconds of Chris Brown's new video for "Don't Think They Know," his song featuring previously unreleased guest vocals from the late Aaliyah. Before it comes an unsourced claim that a child dies of a gunshot wound in America every two hours, which seems a bit high, but whatever: The entire clip is just as ridiculously over-reaching.
What follows is a Boyz n the Hood homage interspersed with scenes of Breezy dancing in between not one but two archival Aaliyah video manifestations. The video is mostly black and white except, Schindler's List-style, for shocks of red, except gold chains are in color, too, and then toward the end the clothes of the young people gathered around a giddily lip-synching Brown are also in bright, neon color. There are scenes where Brown's eyes go blank as if he's in the throes of demonic possession.
Kendrick Lamar and Drake did a better John Singleton video tribute earlier this year. Drake's own Aaliyah-guesting "Enough Said," while understandably controversial, at least made more sense; what does Aaliyah's vocal here about how she's in movies now have to do with the rest of the song? The video ends with more text, this time paying respects to the recently slain rapper Lil Frogg, and telling Aaliyah that "we miss you."
Brown's upcoming album X is due out July 16, but really, whether this video is encouraging "unity," honoring Aaliyah, honoring Lil Frogg, urging swift action on gun control, sending secret Illuminati code messages, or all of the above, it's a jumbled mess. Making any sense whatsoever is what this video seems to be afraid of, so fear is insanity, let's love each other.