“We don’t need water, let the whole slums burn/Black in society, skin isn’t fair.” That’s the hook on “Burning Slums,” a standout from Gaithersburg rapper Ace Cosgrove’s recent release, UsvsRobots — and now the song has a video that suits its message.
In Cosgrove’s new video — helmed by “Golden Chills” directors Guru Media Group — he takes to D.C.’s streets during the demonstrations that followed a jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer.
“[It] was crazy. I’ve never seen a group of people so calmly angry at the world,” Cosgrove writes via email. “They were expressing their anger, but in a peaceful manner. The protests opened my eyes more and gave me a better understanding.”
Armed with his music and firsthand experiences with the police, Cosgrove says he hopes his work will serve as inspiration for listeners — and maybe help him extricate himself from oppressive conditions he faces.
“I’ve had run-ins with crooked-ass cops, luckily not to the same extreme,” writes the rapper. “The system is always going to be f****d. That’s why I make the music I make. I want to get me and my people set up so we don’t even have to be affected by the system, if that’s at all possible.”
As protestors chant, “It is our duty to fight. We must love each other and protect each other,” the video shows Cosgrove standing in solidarity with the crowd before taking a place on the ground during a die-in. It’s the kind of imagery that shows glimmers of hope, while also serving as a stark reminder of the risk he faces simply by living in his skin.