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Premiere: Black Thought Pays Homage To Trayvon Martin On “Rest In Power”

To support JAY-Z and Paramount Network’s forthcoming docu-series, Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story (July 30), The Roots’ Black Thought penned a song and shot a video that puts the then 17-year-old’s life and death into perspective. “Rest In Power” discusses Martin’s killing, the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the toxic relationship between guns and racial discrimination. The music video, which depicts images of Martin’s distraught parents and racist symbols, also inflates Black Thought’s striking phrases.

“I wanted to write something that somehow addressed a broader issue and addressed American tradition,” Black Thought told VIBE on set, “and how for so many generations this same sort of thing has been taking place.” The man who one Genius commentator said can freestyle the entire English language dictionary found a way to lyrically pack in decades of injustice at the hands of the law or those who take the law into their own hands. Incorporating the amount of time (71 seconds) that Trayvon Martin was still alive before being shot was also an important reference that Black Thought, born Tariq Trotter, wanted to state on record.

“It reintroduces the information to those of us who were already following the case and were already informed, but it also reintroduces it to a new demographic who just totally didn’t know,” Trotter said. “This was 2012, thousands of years in the past with regards to the way we receive information now.”

On February 26, 2012, Martin was murdered in Sanford, Fla., by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. The latter claimed the student appeared to be a person who did not belong in the Twin Lakes housing area, where Martin’s father lived. The teenager was on his way to his father’s house after leaving a 7-Eleven store when Zimmerman dialed 911. Despite authorities’ instructions for Zimmerman to refrain from following Martin, he still proceeded to confront the high schooler, ended up in a physical match, and fatally shot him. The incident made its way to court where a jury found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder.

The music video, directed by Rohan Blair-Mangat (JAY-Z’s “BAM”) and shot inside NYC’s Gotham Hall, portrays surveillance footage of Martin inside of the 7-Eleven, still shots of anti-gun violence rallies, and emotional footage of his parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. Since their son’s death, a large number of people have fallen victim to police shootings (559 alone in 2018 according to The Washington Post) or have been the target of mass shooters from Las Vegas to Parkland, Florida.

“There’s so many stories that are huge that are sort of lost in the sauce of the ever-evolving newsfeed,” Trotter admitted. “Once it’s out of the cycle it’s often out of, not public perception, but public recollection.” With the Philadelphia native’s latest offering, the world will once again be reminded of the same emotions they experienced six years ago.

Watch and listen to Black Thought’s ode to Trayvon Martin above.

“Rest In Power” Lyrics:

Rest in power. Rest in paradise. If I could change matters I would spare a life.

Cause lives matter. It’s clearly nothing as dear as life.

You have become a symbol in the spirit life.

Rest in power. Rest in paradise. If I could change matters I would spare a life.

Cause lives matter. It’s clearly nothing as dear as life.

You have become a symbol in the spirit life.

In America one tradition that lasts is black blood woven into the fibers of the flag.

Not addressing the problems of the past to nowhere fast we’re following the path.

So called leaders on hire for the clan

Still raping and setting fire to the land

When that’s the climate how can I become a man.

If survival is a triumph than we got the underhand. Listen

One killer. One child. One weapon. The shooter was unthreatened. 71 seconds.

So many unanswered questions. I see reflections of myself. I feel like in fatherhood we’re all connected.

Too long before the shooter was arrested.

So wrong worldwide we’ve been affected.

To them it’s real. Sins of the father remembered still.

For every Trayvon Martin there was an Emmett Till.

How many more kids will we wait for them to kill?

My tears collecting like raindrops on a window sill.

If the wounds heal the memories never fade.

I wonder if you’re in heaven’s 11th grade?

Six thousand two hundred and thirty days

Too young of an early age

Such evil and worldly ways

The thing in which we believe

The way in which we behave

They way in which we’ve evolved

The monster that we became


Rest in power. Rest in paradise

To all the babies too young to have paid the price

Cause lives matter. there’s clearly nothing as dear as life.

You have become a symbol in the spirit life

Rest in power. Rest in paradise

Know as long as you still got somebody here to fight

Your lives matter

There’s clearly nothing as dear as life.

You have become a symbol in the spirit life.

READ MORE: Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin Talk ‘Rest In Power’ And Trayvon’s Legacy’

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