One of the year’s best surprise collaborations now has a music video!
After debuting their first single last month with the stellar remake of Sounds Of Blackness’ “Optimistic,” burgeoning trio August Greene unveil the official visual for the Brandy-featured anthem.
Rapper, actor, and activist Common formed the new group with a couple of friends and collaborators, including GRAMMY Award-winning pianist/producer Robert Glasper, and drummer/producer Karriem Riggins.
Glasper brings a bed of soft and subtle keys to the track, while Riggins keeps the tempo moving with a bouncy drum pattern. Common’s contribution comes as a woke third verse, where the Chi-town native spits a rapid fire flow. “Envision optimism through a prism that’s optical / To see through obstacles and be remarkable,” he raps. However, it’s Brandy who truly shines brilliantly on the lush record.
“You’ll always do your best if you learn to never say never,” she sings. “You may be down but you’re not out / And that’s where I will lift you up.”
Filmed in Jackson, Mississippi over Martin Luther King Day weekend, the video features the Jackson-area activists Hollis Watkins, Frankye Adams Johnson, Dr. Cindy Ayers Elliott, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, and the Maddrama Performance Group. “Optimism is the fuel drives all survival strategies,” says the video’s director B+. “Being optimistic is a faith that things must get better. I remembered over Christmas reading an article by Robin DG Kelley about Jackson, Mississippi. It inspired me deeply. The notion of folks building community over longer periods, keeping focused on the local especially when the national fails and following in the narratives passed to us by previous generations seemed so profound. The work of Chokwe Lumumba, and now his son and the larger community around them is deep, heartfelt and sincere something we can all aspire to. As Kelley says, ‘So I propose that we turn away from the latest celebrity death match, and turn our attention to Jackson, Mississippi.’”
“It has been incredible to work with B+ and his team,” says Common. “B has a beautiful way of telling stories, be it photographs, film or music videos, he connects to the soul of the subject. As a collective we wanted the visual for ‘Optimistic’ to convey the spirit and energy of the song. The people of Jackson, Mississippi — from the children to the activists to the mayor — told this story in a simple and beautiful way. And shooting us in the studio is truly just capturing us in our heaven on earth.”
On March 9, the debut album by August Greene will be available on Amazon Music and Amazon Music Unlimited. Check out the empowering video above.