Police brutality is a hot-button issue in our nation right now. But despite the current advertising climate of social good projects, most brands have been silent on the subject. T.I.'s clothing label Akoo has broken that silence with its 11x Human fall collection and an introductory video that asks questions about social justice while promoting the fashion.
Diametrically opposed to traditional collection videos, which often go for nothing more than a mood, and sometimes seem to intentionally court confusion with nonsensical imagery, this is an introduction with a point of view.
"The campaign pushes a sense of social consciousness and responsibility around issues of racial violence, urging a sense of shared humanity as a way of counteracting increased brutality," says director John Merizalde.
Passionately narrated by Michael "Killer Mike" Render, a hip hop artist and activist from Atlanta, it's clear that this video is more than a fashion campaign. It's a call for us all to step up and see each other not as cop and perp, not as black and white, but as human.
I want to be clear that this is not a piece that brands all police as racist. It portrays both black and white cops, and black and white suspects. We see a black cop connecting with his young son and a white cop also connecting with his son. We see one black son of Atlanta robbing another black son of Atlanta, leading to the police chase. And through it all, we see a tableau of Atlanta from the city's famous strip clubs to the iconic windows of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Baptist church.
"Our goal was to be reflective of the violence that we inflict on our own community and not just limit the focus on external factors such as poverty, poor education and the actions of the police," says Sabai Burnett, vp of Marketing at Akoo. "This film is the crescendo of our artistic viewpoint—heavily graphic and unapologetic. 'If not us, who? If not now, when?' "
While such a bold statement is unusual for a fashion brand, it's perfectly in line with T.I.'s politics. The hip-hop artist (real name: Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.) recently urged people to take action about inequality, claiming social media posts will not solve the problems we're experiencing as a nation. So it should come as a shock to no one that T.I. would shoot a statement film like this in his hometown, narrated by Killer Mike—another friend from his hometown—shot by an Atlanta director and using locals from the riders of ATL Bike Life to the dancers at the Blue Flame Lounge.
What's more shocking is how few brands are willing to offer a point of view on the topic. It doesn't matter what community you live in. I, too, am a daughter of Atlanta. Though it's not my hometown, it is the town where I'm raising my children. And that which affects one of us affects all of us, because we are all human.
"Eleven Times Human"
A short film commissioned by Akoo
Directed By John Merizalde
Cinematography by Kristian Zuñiga
Narrated by Michael "Killer Mike" Render
Executive Producers: Tip "T.I." Harris, Jason Geter, Ralph Reynolds, Sabai Burnett and David Kwon Kim
Producers: David Kwon Kim and Brandon Smith
Production Managers: Grey Clawson and Garrett Coyte
First Assistant Camera: Daniel Guadalupe
B-Camera Operator: Erin Murray
Steadicam Operator: Mark Sunderland
Gaffer: Alex Allgood
Key Grip: Austin English
Art Director: Addie Babcock
Hair & Makeup: Desi Davis
Wardrobe Stylist: Kellye Barnes
Production Assistant: Jae Desouza
Production Assistant: Courtney Wallace
Editor: Andrew Litten
Composer: Patrick Canaday
Additional Music: NEVR and Watermark High
Sound Design: Matt Dunaway
Color: David Torcivia
ATL Bike Life
Blue Flame Lounge
Cascade Family Skating
Columbus Ward and the Rick McDevitt Youth Center
HD Planet Cameras