Rappers DaBaby and Roddy Ricch paid a powerful tribute to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement on Sunday in a new video for their song "Rockstar." The video was created in lieu of a live performance for the 2020 BET Awards, and it included some imagery that has become all too recognizable in the months since "Rockstar" first hit the airwaves.
The "Rockstar" video opens with a prolonged shot of DaBaby on the ground, his face pressed against the pavement and a police officer's knee on his neck, just like the viral video of Floyd being killed. DaBaby delivers a whole verse this way, maintaining the uncomfortable tableau for nearly a minute before cutting to a shot of a dramatized confrontation between police and protesters. The first verse was released as a "Black Lives Matter Remix" of "Rockstar" as the wave of protests across the nation coincided with the song's popularity. "Rockstar" was released in April and was one of the top hip-hop songs of May, according to Rolling Stone.
The rest of the video takes place in a dark, smoky setting resembling hazy protest videos on social media over the last few months. Both DaBaby and Roddy Ricch perform in front of a burning cop car, with protesters and police brandishing bats and batons at each other.
The initial response to the song has been largely positive, with many people praising DaBaby for using his influence and his platform to send such a powerful message. The rapper is known for elaborate videos and upbeat, bragadocious lyrics, which helped him break through into mainstream success in recent years including his viral performance on SNL this winter. However, the "Rockstar BLM Remix" shows that DaBaby has some poignant things to say with a new verse all about his personal experience with police racial profiling and racist violence.
"As a juvenile, police pulled their guns like they scared of me," he rapped. "And we're used to how crackers treat us, now that's the scary thing / Want anything we good at and we cherish it / Now we all fed up and n—s coming back for everything."
DaBaby has faced a handful of legal issues in the past, including one serious incident where the rapper admitted to shooting another man in a South Carolina Walmart, but said he did so in "self defense." The serious charges were eventually dropped and DaBaby pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon — a misdemeanor in the state.
DaBaby won best Male Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards on Sunday night, beating out fellow nominees Drake, Future, Lil Baby, Travis Scott and Roddy Ricch.