Chris Brown's new video for the Aaliyah-assisted "Don't Think They Know" doesn't open with a sexed-up reveal or flashy dance number. Instead, Breezy sets it off with an important and unexpected message: "Every two hours in America today a child dies of a gunshot wound," reads the black screen. "Unity is what we are afraid of so fear is insanity, lets love each other."
The track from Brown's upcoming X album plays like a teenage love story, but the cinematic video delivers a deeper message. A black, white and red opening scene is set in the gang-infested streets of Compton. As Chris and his homeys come riding down the street in an old-school red convertible, looking for trouble, the singer has a change of heart and leaves — much like actor Cuba Gooding Jr. did in the 1991 classic, "Boyz n the Hood."
The track recalls a '90s R&B vibe, thanks to Aaliyah's posthumous performance and Brown's interpolation of Jon B's 1997 hit "They Don't Know." Still, in the video, Brown sticks to his anti-violence theme and unites the red Bloods with the blue Crips in one overarching clip. When he isn't surrounded by gang-bangers, he's singing with a crowd of kids in front of a school or dancing alone in a dark room flanked by two projected images of Aayliah taken from some of her music videos.
The message was all part of Brown's plan, he admitted. "I shot it in the hood, I went to the 60s. I went to Cedar block," Brown said during a press event for the upcoming 2013 BET Awards. "It's both worlds, it's bringing both words together in the video trying to uplift the poverty side of the community and just showing them where I'm from."
The "Don't Think They Know" video, which was released by Brown on Vimeo is distinctly different from his big-budget "Fine China" clip, but just as powerful and more personal. To close, Breezy puts up a "rest in peace" message for his slain friend Michael "Lil Frogg" Reshard, an up-and-coming Compton rapper who was gunned down in front of a local liquor store earlier this year.