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Fun Fact: Kanye West, Maroon 5 and David Banner all made their television debuts on the Orlando Jones Show on FX in the early 2000s. His love of music and eye for launching new talent may not be surprising, but audiences will be surprised to learn that he is a prolific singer in his own right who is dropping a unique new music video.

Inspired by recent events that have been resonating deeply throughout the core of society, Orlando is releasing the single Thug Music Vol. 1 – Play At A Maximum Level. He’s using his music and accompanying visuals to weave a compelling narrative as a platform for debate, dialogue and engagement to ask—can individuals create a social movement that might actually change the world?

“I’m a big fan of the Steve Jobs quote that launched Apple’s “Think Different” campaign in 1997″ Jones explains. “It says – Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square hole, the ones who see things differently— they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world—are the ones who do.”

Jones relates the quote to the recent deaths of black males in Florida including Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis as well as a range of other miscarriages of justice. “I wonder where young black men like Jordan Davis fit into this conceit? Would he have been “crazy enough” to change the world? Or Trayvon Martin-could he have been part of the movement to “push the human race forward?” Sadly, we’ll never know what might have come from their unrealized potential, not to mention the countless other fallen brothers and sisters whose lives were cut down too soon and for whom justice was not served. What of Renisha McBride and Rekia Boyd? Emmett Till and Medgar Evers? Aiyana Jones and Latasha Harlins?” asks Orlando.

He goes on to add, “These individuals changed things. They put a face on the legacy of ‘Unforgivable Blackness.’ Contrary to the spirit of Steve Jobs’ words, we continue to ignore them and those like them. You and I see them every day; boys and girls, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. People whose humanity and agency is denied in life and whose memory is tarnished in death to serve a media narrative that their fate might not have befallen them if only they minimized their otherness and didn’t appear ‘too threatening.’”

Jones is careful to point out that he speaks as a private citizen who is deeply troubled by what he believes to be indefensible crimes that are not adequately prosecuted by law enforcement. “I am not a politician. I am not an academic. I have no earthly idea how to create systemic change on a policy level so that people stop dying and get written off as another statistic. However, I do believe in the transformative power of narrative storytelling across a multitude of platforms. Media representations of persons of color matter. How we see ourselves and how others see us represented in popular culture sets the stage for how we will navigate a world where privilege is the Golden Rule—”Those Who Have The Gold Make The Rules.”

“That’s why I wrote this song, “Thug Music Vol. 1 – Play At A Maximum Level” and the forthcoming “Tainted Love” graphic novel– to explore themes of how our culture has been co-opted and appropriated (sometimes with our implicit endorsement) and then spoon-fed back to us (and society at large).

In selecting “Thug Music Vol. 1 – Play At A Maximum Level” as the first release of my musical journey, it’s important to point out that it’s not intended to be a Top-40 joint. The sound I’m sharing is raw, evolving and from my soul” Orlando opines. “Some of you will (hopefully) feel it and others might not find it to their liking. I welcome any constructive criticism; but I’ll be much more interested in what you have to say if you bring your own creative game to the conversation.”

In closing, Orlando reiterates, “Let’s make sure the faces of our fallen aren’t relegated to the dustbin of irrelevancy but instead treated with the same reverence as the faces in that Apple campaign with the quote I am so fond of. It’s the very least we can do!”


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