Jay Z’s Tidal and Sankofa.org, a social justice organization founded by Harry Belafonte, recently launched a new project to spotlight racial violence.
The mogul’s music streaming service exclusively hosts a 20-minute video featuring a 17-year-old Black boy named Jacobi Nelson considering a college scholarship before experiencing police brutality. Released as a visual EP called “17,” on Friday, Feb. 17, it features tracks from Raphael Saadiq, Elijah Blake, Ty Dolla $ign and Mali Music. It is a prelude to a full-length LP that will include songs from artists like John Legend and Andra Day, according to Billboard.
“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth and have a unique opportunity to instruct as well as entertain,” Belafonte told the music website. “’17’ is a powerful visual meant to shift the paradigm of racial bias and illuminate the prolific issue of the carnage besieging Black and brown communities all across this country.”
Recent incidents of police violence against Black Americans inspired the imagery in “17,” including the death of Flordia teen Trayvon Martin, who was gunned down by then-neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in February 2012. Martin, who died at age 17, was targeted for looking “suspicious” as he walked through the gated community.
“As a first-of-its-kind ‘social justice impact entertainment enterprise,’ our mission at Sankofa.org is to connect artists and entertainers with the activists, organizations and communities most directly impacted by issues like racial bias, systemic violence, mass incarceration, and economic, social and political disenfranchisement in an effort to drive social and policy change,” Sankofa.org’s co-executive director Gina Belafonte said in a press release.
“17” is the newest visual project launched by the organization. In October, Sankofa.org debuted the “Against the Wall” PSA, which starred actor Michael B. Jordan and activist Van Jones. The video tackled police brutality by featuring participants standing with their hands against a wall as coverage of victims deaths plays in the background.