SANKOFA.org, the social justice organization founded by Harry Belafonte, has announced that the audio version of its new Visual EP “17”, featuring music by artists Ty Dolla $ign, Raphael Saadiq, Mali Music and Elijah Blake, is now available on all DSPs. The Visual EP, which made its official February 17th premiere on TIDAL, seeks to raise funds to support grassroots organizing efforts around issues of racial and social justice. It will become available on all DSPs on March 3rd.
Conceptualized and directed by writer/director duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, “17” is a riveting 17-minute Visual “protest” EP that follows a day in the life of its protagonist Jacobi Nelson, a 17-year-old Black male, and his tragic encounter with racial bias and police violence. The concept behind the Visual EP is inspired by the countless men and women who have fallen victim to racial and police violence, including Trayvon Martin, whose death at the age of 17 nearly five years ago (on February 26th) drew national outcry, and was one of the precursors of the now-global Black Lives Matter movement.
“17” is a prelude to SANKOFA.org’s forthcoming debut compilation album on its new recording label SANKOFA.org/MUSIC distributed by Kobalt Music Recordings. The below songs are featured on both the audio and visual versions of the EP:
- “No Justice” by Ty Dolla $ign featuring Big TC
- “The Answer” by Raphael Saadiq
- “Hanging Tree” by Elijah Blake
- “Trouble” by Mali Music
According to Newsweek, the Visual EP “serves as a sobering reminder of the value of black lives in America.” Mic.com says “the visual EP sends a stunning and powerful message about race in America.” And The Root called it “a beautifully shot homage to black life.”
“It is always so inspiring to work with artists who are passionately committed to learning more about the injustices taking place in communities across our country, and to helping elevate the voices of society’s most disenfranchised,” said Gina Belafonte, Co-Executive Director of SANKOFA.ORG, and Executive Producer of the EP. “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth, and those featured on “17” and SANKOFA.org’s forthcoming social justice album have done an amazing job of using their art to invoke calls to action around urgent human rights issues like racial and police violence. Hopefully this visual EP will inspire more artists to use their massive cultural influence and followings to shine a light on issues of political and moral urgency.”
Founded by Harry Belafonte in 2013, SANKOFA.org has been building a platform and entertainment enterprise where influential artists and grassroots leaders can work collaboratively to speak out against human rights abuse and injustice. Through the production of music, content and live events, Sankofa.org has been raising funds to help advance movement building efforts across the country. Sankofa.org also drives campaigns to crowdsource funds through its website at Sankofa.org/donate.
At a time when protest music is beginning to make a resurgence, “17” highlights the role of artists and entertainers in the ongoing push for racial and social justice. Funds raised from the consumption of “17” will be used to support Sankofa.org’s social justice grassroots partners who are working and organizing on the front lines for progressive social change.
“17” marks SANKOFA.org’s second collaboration with Bush|Renz, the first being the anti-police violence PSA “Against The Wall” starring Danny Glover, Van Jones, Michael B. Jordan, Michael K. Williams, Marc Lamont Hill and others.
“‘17’ transforms a statistic into a 3-dimensional story, by harnessing the most powerful marriage of music and visual,” said “17” Co-Director Gerard Bush. “The racial bias that continues to plague our country and collect our young men as casualties, should be unacceptable to every American. Our ardent hope is that ‘17’ will provide meaningful context and drive people toward self-examination of their own inherent, preconceived ideas — about race and culture.”
Watch “17” below: