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Rapper's VR Music Video Gives You the Experience of a Live Protest

The worlds of music and tech collide in a politically charged VR experience.

Jamel Mims aka "Jam No Peanut" is a conscious rapper with a not-so severe nut-allergy whose work as an interactive media artist is bringing people to the frontline of political action. The 31-year-old and DC-native is now based in New York City where he runs a test prep program that uses hip hop to teach kids history. Mims also works as a tech and cultural consultant in low-income classrooms where students don't usually have access to high tech gear for learning materials. In June, Mims was a part of Hip Hop Hacktavist a social coding event inspired by the music of Kendrick Lamar aimed at high-schoolers. "I take a lot of my professional work and put it into my artistic work. That really is about bringing trap music and youth culture to mass incarceration and state terror," Mims told VICE Impact an interview.


Photo by Jose Alvarado

On Monday, July 24th, Mims released the music video for his new song "Hands Up." The video is a virtual reality experience that puts viewers on the streets of New Orleans and then in Washington DC just after the inauguration of President Trump. The video, which lasts a little over 4-minutes features real scenes from protests and marches without any actors or props.

Mims shot the footage and edited it himself to give certain points of the video a dreamlike feeling that resembled a post-apocalyptic scenario. "Things like virtual reality are able to immerse people and drive them into action," Mims said. Mims has been performing since he was in college and has amplified the messages in his music through multi-media tech. He describes himself as a revolutionary on the frontline of fascism and state terror and says that he began to take his music seriously after his experiences as a teacher using rap music in the classroom.

In a statement released by Dauntless Media, Mims explains the message he hopes to share with audiences: "We are living in a historic moment with fascism on the rise in America. The project is a call to action for those that have never attended a protest before, to those for whom street demonstration is a culture - it's going to take all of us to drive them out. When you experience the video, I want you to think, feel, and be compelled to get into the streets and act to drive out this fascist regime." In this age of divisive politics, it can easy for artists to sit on the sidelines rather than weigh in controversial subjects. Mims sees it as a moral obligation that influencers use their social capital to move the needle on issues that are important to them and their communities. With the power of social media, mobilizing people to act is now easier than ever and a chance for people to reach across the aisle for a common goal. "There needs to be a time now where everybody from all walks of life are actually out on the streets and so that's the main point of driving force for the video," Mims said.

Check out the video for Hands Up by Jam No Peanut above and find out more of his work here.