Sly5thAve Pays Tribute To Victims Of Police Brutality In “Let Me Ride” Video [Premiere]
Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II, better known as Sly5thAve, uses his gift for creating sophisticated jazz to pay tribute to those affected by police brutality across America.
On a personal note, I am quite surprised that I haven’t ran into the man born Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II in these Brooklyn streets just yet. Better known as Sly5thAve, the talent saxophonist, composer, and arranger has been giving us nothing but soulful, sophisticated hits for years now. His latest project, The Invisible Man: An Orchestral Tribute to Dr. Dre, honors one of the greatest living producers and engineers of our time in such a vibrant way.
Delving deeper into the sounds and stylings of jazz, hip-hop, and funk — Sly partners up with director Francesca Mirabella on a story they both wrote which became the video for “Let Me Ride”. Featuring Jimetta Rose on the track and starring Gio Alexzander as the lead, “Let Me Ride” examines the brutality that black-and-brown people face in America at the hands of racists and police.
“When I decided to record ‘The Invisible Man,’ I knew that I wanted to speak to current events in America,” Sly said in a released statement. “Freddie Gray had just been murdered by the Baltimore police. Add to that Donald Trump’s inflammatory, divisive, racist rhetoric [and] I was angered, hurt, and felt madness in my helplessness to stop it. The song is a bittersweet ballad, singing of hope, knowing it’s out there, but also realizing that you are trapped. We aimed to pay tribute to all of the victims of police brutality and racial violence. I hope this piece adds to the conversation so that we can start to move forward.” Elements that I noticed in the visual treatise were the effects of violence—when Gio is on the ground seemingly dead and his chest pumps life back into him—and the haunting spectre of racially driven violence such as the “ghosts” in blue chasing after Gio.
Using bodies and movements to tell just how devastating things are for black-and-brown men, women, and children, “Let Me Ride” is a timely offering where we are constantly under attack for even the smallest things as waiting in a Starbucks or wanting to BBQ with friends and family. If you haven’t dove into Sly5thAve’s The Invisible Man project, you can stream it below, and we ask that you watch the Francesca Mirabella-directed visual above.