NEW: FKA twigs, Headie One & Fred again.. - Don't Judge Me
Tuesday saw the premiere of the cinematic-sounding ‘Don’t Judge Me’ by a trio of UK artists - FKA twigs of Cheltenham, and Headie One and Fred again.. from London. This congregation of talent brings us one of the most powerful tracks of 2021 so far, with a strong social message behind it. FKA twigs and Emmanuel Adjei direct the immaculately made video, with the latter being a co-director of Beyonce’s 2020 landmark feature-length musical ‘Black Is King’.
The video itself includes appearances from many leading Black British cultural figures including transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf, journalist and author of ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ Reni Eddo-Lodge, and legendary poet and Birmingham native Benjamin Zephaniah. The inclusion of these influential individuals is an indication of the deeper meaning behind the track. The title of this track refers to an earlier collaboration from the artists on Headie One’s mixtape ‘GANG’, released in 2020. A short two-minute interlude called ‘Judge Me’ featured all three UK talents on a floating, supernatural-sounding beat that has many of the characteristics of this extended edit. ‘We can walk free but are we really walking free here? / How can this be home when I feel I wanna flee here? / I can’t trust the police force and I can’t trust the media / Learnt more about my people from the streets than from my teachers’ raps Tottenham-raised Headie as he walks down a solitary London backstreet. In a separate scene, several of the illustrious list of Black icons stand in the shadow of Kara Walker’s giant sculpture Fons Americanus, which depicts motifs from the history of Africa, the Americas and Europe, especially relating to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This emotive sculpture, that mimics the Victoria Memorial found outside Buckingham Palace, also forms the song thumbnail for the digital format of the song.
Director Adjei posted a powerful reflective caption to the ‘audio-visual document’ entitled ‘THE INVISIBLE OPPRESSOR’, and this sentiment is evident throughout the video that sees FKA, Headie and other individuals engaged in struggles against entities that do not appear on screen, yet clearly restrain and limit their freedom. FKA twigs has stated in previous interviews that she has completed a full album while being locked down during the pandemic, but it’s unknown whether this song will appear when it is eventually released. In any case, this release evokes a strong cultural resonance, and it keeps the necessity for a continued conversation about the legacy of systemic racism and slavery at its core.