Spinning Singles: Usher


A modern-day protest anthem and a musical tour-de-force, Usher’s latest release refuses simple description. The track opens with a child’s voice wondering, “Justice for all?” Thereafter, potent, painful lines about police brutality, murders of Black Americans and the prison-industrial complex fill every verse and chorus. “I am no prison commodity, not just a body you throw in a cell,” Nas raps, “Just for your quota, so it’s rest in peace to Sean Bell/Sleep in peace Eric Garner (Sandra).” Earlier, Usher and Bibi Bourelly sing, “Moment of silence/American school and we in church too (Don’t shoot).” It feels vastly uncomfortable and inappropriate to take any line out of context, to listen to “Chains” with a passive ear. Usher makes active engagement with “Chains” a further necessity with the song’s interactive music video, available on Tidal.com. “While racial injustice keeps killing, society keeps looking away,” the website states.