J. Cole Tackles Gun Violence + Drugs In Eye-Opening ‘Crooked Smile’ Video

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Photo: (Getty)

J. Cole is a rapper, a songwriter, college graduate (with high honors!) and now you could say he’s an incredible filmmaker. He’s released the video for his song “Crooked Smile,” which tackles two issues in a eye-opening way: gun violence and the war on drugs.

Sheldon Candis, who wrote and directed the video, explained that J. Cole and Roc Nation approached him about making a social statement. “Recently, we’ve had people lose their lives, innocent individuals, during police raids, of basically petty drug deals,” he said about the premise of the video. Candis also revealed that this is Cole’s first time acting and that he nails it. “He’s my Ryan Gosling…he does that very silent, quiet brooding man thing.”

J. had a specific image in mind for the video — and a specific person to dedicate it to. “I really want to in essence play, like, Aiyana Stanley-Jones’s older brother,” he told the director. In the clip, we see Cole’s character having a good day, celebrating his sister’s birthday, minding his own business, unaware that a police raid is about to happen. In the raid, he’s arrested and his little sister is killed.

+ Watch J. Cole’s’ “Crooked Smile.”

Is your mouth still open? Did that video hit your gut? Make your eyes widen?

As the video director mentioned, this video is echoing the story of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, though the main difference between the two stories is that Aiyana was killed during a raid looking for a murder suspect, and in “Crooked Smile” the little girl is killed during a petty drug raid. Aiyana was only seven-years-old, and asleep, when she was shot.

+ Watch J. Cole discuss how his music video was inspired by “Fruitvale Station.”

“Look at the nation, that’s a crooked smile braces couldn’t even straighten,” raps Cole in the song. Drugs are clearly a big issue in America, and J. Cole’s not the only person who takes issue on the war on drugs. Justin Bieber, Kerry Washington, Will Smith and others also publicly signed a petition, asking that funds go to “drug prevention and treatment programs” for anyone who might be addicted as opposed to mass incarceration of nonviolent individuals. What are your thoughts on the issue?

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