While rapper J. Cole has a history of garnering the type of love songs you lay awake listening to at night, he also has a passion for delivering records with powerful lyrics that make you think. The latter definitely describes the content of J. Cole’s latest single, “Crooked Smile.” The record, which features TLC, delivers an enlightening message in regards to racial profiling in addition to the government’s approach toward the war on drugs.
However, the innocent victims who are caught in the crossfire of these economic battles really equate to the purpose of the video itself. The Roc Nation rapper took time to pay homage to an innocent victim who personally touched his heart. In 2010, 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was shot and killed by police officers in a Detroit house raid. Her death sparked nationally attention, and judging from the video, it definitely reverberated with the North Carolina Rapper.
MTV reports the Crooked Smile video, which was transformed into a short film, tells a prolific story, where J. Cole stars as the older brother of the slain 7-year-old. The video opens to a split scene – one with a DEA agent having breakfast with his daughter, and another with J. Cole cleaning his home. The rapper is notably excited, preparing for his younger sister’s birthday party, decorating her cake for the special occasion. However, later that night, after the party has subsided, the momentous occasion turns into a horrific nightmare. The house is raided, and he is arrested for possession and distribution of marijuana. But, as he’s hand-cuffed against the wall, a door opens down the hallway, and the child steps into view. Without any thought, the officer opens fire accidentally killing the little girl. The video then shifts to a classroom of children where both the slain child and the DEA agent’s daughter are seated. The two children weren’t very different at all; both the same age with bright futures ahead. Unfortunately, only one of them will have a future. The heart-wrenching scene is hard to swallow, but sadly it’s a reality that happens a lot more than it should. The video closes with a statement of address: “For Aiyana Stanley-Jones,” the statement of address reads, “And please reconsider the war on drugs.”
Vibe Magazine met with Sheldon Candis, director of the “Crooked Smile” short film as he weighed in with his take on the visual. “I’m very proud of him. This is his first experience acting. He nailed it,” said Candis. “He gives a very conflicted performance and it’s all a very non-verbal, silent performance. He’s my Ryan Gosling!”