By Niy Birden
First of all, let’s just start by acknowledging that Don Cheadle is on a roll. Not only because of the legend that he is and always will be, but because he has made two incredibly placed appearances in two of the biggest music videos this year so far: Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA”, and now, Logic’s “1-800-273-8255”. Can we all agree here that Don would make a damn good director for a music video??
This year, the topic of LGBTQ discussions have been fairly quiet but still in demand, thanks to our recent election. With recent events such as the Charlottesville Nazi protests showing just how much of hate America is tolerating in society, it might be fitting to say that right now, more than ever, our youth need understanding and support with personal matters, especially the types of matters that has been behind the spike of suicide rates in teenagers. Fortunately, that support comes from a multitude of sources. And Logic wants to open up the discussion about it.
Sonically, the song is very pro-pop with a hint of R&B and Hip Hop, like most of Logic’s hits. Starting off with vintage electro piano and some lovely, optimistic strings, he opens up with a very honest statement “I’ve been on the low/I been taking my time/I feel like I’m out of my mind/It feel like my life ain’t mine/Who can relate?/I’ve been on the low/I been taking my time/I feel like I’m out of my mind/It feel like my life ain’t mine”. It then continues on with the mid-tempo beats as a nice accompaniment, and has a generous contribution by Alessia Cara and Khalid. Lyrically, it details someone calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and detailing their dismay, and then deciding that they actually don’t want to continue with ending their life.
The theme is very strong and very raw. This is probably the most honest song that all three of the artists have done, in fact. You have Logic, who has detailed everything from being a mixed race kid, all the way to doing drugs, and then Alessia and Khalid, who both as newcomer teen sensations, have only really gone into the depths of being a teenager either wildly in love or desperately trying to escape an awful party. Alessia, though, has had her fair share of empowering anthems. Her single from her “Know It All” album, “Scars To Your Beautiful”, was released last year but still can be heard on multiple charts, due to the enormous campaign that went along the single. But when you compare that to this song, it actually sounds like it might be a stripped Part II that comes after desperately trying to love those scars.
If there is anything that could make the song more powerful, it is most definitely the music video that recently premiered. Already racking in at over 12 million hits on YouTube in less than 10 days, and over 750,000 daily listens on Spotify, the music video is one that will surely make you shed a tear or two, and make you question the loneliness that might be inside of you, your family member, your friend, or even a stranger passing you by. Don Chealde’s role in this video is probably the most important. Although we do have a very proactive teenager utilizing the National Lifeline, Don Cheadle’s role, aside from the teacher’s, shows us the importance of being aware of your child’s situation and stepping up to the plate as a parent or supporter.
The video begins with a nostalgic and romantic shot of Don with the main protagonist, but as a baby. Thematically, it already gives you an insight into what may come later for both characters. The rest of the video, unlike the song, goes by very slowly, locking in the message for the viewer. We get to see the life of an ashamed, Black teenager who is gay. The Black part is especially important, since it isn’t any secret about how the Black community has had a multitude of discussions about the disenfranchised LGBTQ voices that make a very large part of them.
What starts off as a story of a teenager finding the truth of who he really is turns into a slightly chaotic montage of his father then finding out, as well as the love interests’, and the teacher, in addition to bullies at school. Pretty much the pinnacle of despair for a gay teenager in highschool. Our hero goes back to his room, grabbing his gun and contemplates ending his life there, but thankfully, something changes and we see him taking the time to call someone on the phone. While we as the viewer can’t hear any of the dialogue that happens, the inclination of the happy wedding for the protagonist and his love interest, many years later, indicates that not only did the hero decide to give himself another chance, but so did his father.
While the reality still stands that many parents still choose not to support their children with extreme situations like these, Logic has chosen to end the video in a more optimistic way. But not in a naive one. It is in a way that suggests responsibility as a supporter to the viewer. And with the ending scene leaving off with Don Cheadle, his son now fully grown with his love interest, and their new baby, the resounding final message of the song and video create a spark of hope: Love, no matter what form, can be shared universally. And so can support for one another. But most importantly, love starts with yourself.