Lisa Bonet, Angel Haze and Dorothy in their new music video “Freedom”
In Dorothy’s blues song “FreedomThe lyrics describe a woman trying to escape her troubles by setting out on a trip across the United States. But her raucous chirp and sparse drums combine to create an anthemic atmosphere. Legendary musician and producer Linda Perry has perceived the power behind the song, and reused the 28 days in the valley cut as the official soundtrack of his #FreedomMeans campaign.
Launched to celebrate Women’s History Month in March by We Are Hear (label of producers Perry and Kerry Brown) and Equality Now, the #FreedomMeans campaign encourages people to share what freedom means to them and raise awareness about gender equality and women’s rights. On this version of “Freedom”, The worlds of rap and rock collide, thanks to a devastating verse about discrimination and racial tensions rapped by Angel Haze.
It’s the kind of song you want to listen to over and over again. But now the song takes on a whole new dimension thanks to a new backing visual, directed by Lisa Bonet and produced by a predominantly female production team, which features over 100 women of all ages coming together to celebrate this beautiful thing that we call life. ELLE.com caught up with Angel Haze, Dorothy and Lisa Bonet to discuss the “Freedom” video, the #FreedomMeans movement and liberation through their respective art forms.
Let’s start by defining what freedom means to all of you.
Angel: For me, being free means that I have the right to the full spectrum of expression, because a lot of my life is about bringing things out, be it a gift, message, feelings or whatever. I like to be completely free. When I am free, I am not bound by anything.
Dorothy: For me, freedom is being able to do what I love to do, and I feel the most free when I write with my group. And sometimes I’m lucky that there is a really good message conveyed to the song, and I can convey it to the listener. I’m recovering and living my life that way now, as opposed to the darkness and fear it was before when I was using drugs and alcohol – it’s like I’m in a different dimension, like I have a purpose, and I’m here to help other people recover. I am here to be of service through music.
Lisa: Freedom, in its ultimate state, would be for me to reach my full potential and understanding, which I think I’m probably closer to achieving now that I’m in my 50s. These years are our goddess years. We are so much less burdened with trying to please people or chasing what we think we should be as women, but we have now hopefully landed in a place where we are not encumbered by what has been projected onto us as young girls and as women, and now we can truly step into our power, pursue what really matters and have the discernment to make those decisions and make healthy decisions for us- same.
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It’s hard to stay optimistic these days, which is reflected in Angel’s first verse. What feelings did you hope to elicit with this verse?
Angel: All of my music is surreal. All my life I have seen people die or who could not walk in the streets without being shot, harassed or arrested. For me, it’s important to put that in the music. Your heart should make you feel something, it should make you feel, it should make you feel like your blood is boiling, and I wanted to put that in the verse. I feel the weight of the world but I also know that as an artist I have the capacity to lift it. When I first wrote it, I wrote it from a dark place. Linda came to me and said, “You have the opportunity to do something different, and if you use your voice the right way you can change not only your own story, but that of a lot of people around.” from you. ”
Lisa, when Linda came to you with the song, what was the initial concept you had in mind for the video?
Lisa: Because of my love of dancing and my commitment to that kind of joy in my own life, I go to a class every week. And when I’m in that class, I really feel these glimpses of liberation and joy – when I look to one side, and dance with my daughter, and I look on the other side, another good friend. There is that feeling of joy when we move around the floor and there is so much power in that. It was the core of the video for me, this vision of the unstoppable strength of united women.
You said that dancing gives you a feeling of freedom. When did dancing become so important to you?
Lisa: I always think. The word I use when I think of dancing is liberation and I think it’s amazing when you’re in that kind of real surrender, where you don’t think about what you look like. And I also believe that music is one of the greatest contributions humans make to the universe. So music and dancing bring you to this place of liberation and joy – the fusion of these two is just one beautiful collision of what life has to offer.
There is a point where Angel gives a gunshot gesture and everyone falls.
Lisa: Well, that’s just a reality we’re all living in now, isn’t it? We could be anywhere. It can happen anywhere and anytime. It is now part of our culture, the virus of violence that has spread to all parts of our planet. NRA can come out and tell people to stay in their lane, but this disease is present in all lanes of life. We are all vulnerable. I don’t understand the purpose of guns except to hurt.
Lisa, in one scene there is a large group of women in the street, walking and dancing – young children, older women, pregnant women. Why was it important for you to represent their different backgrounds?
Lisa: That’s life. Everyone deserves to feel welcome and to have a place in life to be honored. Children need this protected and guarded innocence at all costs. People give birth every day, several times a day, so you almost forget how sacred it is, and that every woman runs the risk of going through a door and potentially losing her life in giving birth. The growing life inside of you is very sacred, but it is taken for granted now.
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How do songs like “Freedom” help you cope with what you see in the news?
Angel: If you feel alone in the world at some point, music has the power to swallow your heart. I think artists are angels – they were sent here to do something special for people, to connect with millions and millions and millions of people around the world. So when I listen to “Freedom” I feel like I’m not alone and I feel like someone understands me, or someone is speaking for me.
Dorothy: I think music is so powerful because it can change your energy. I agree with Angel, I had the same experience where the fans said, “I feel like you understand me.” It connects us all. Music is very healing.
When you look at the world today, what do you think?
Dorothy: I feel like this might be controversial, but I feel like we are being controlled by the powers that be. I feel like there’s a lot of misinformation and there’s a lot of truth as well, so people have a choice to come together and unite, and to stop separating and coming together. ‘attacking each other, judging each other. And we have to do it now. The world can end in a really scary place or it can end in a really beautiful place, it’s up to us.
Angel: I’ll be honest, I think for the first time I get a new sense of optimism. I think everyone is a force of nature. When it feels like the darkest time of our lives, we have a choice to seek out the light. We all have incredible energy and I see so many people coming out and doing things differently. It’s almost like we’re on a mission to break generational curses. I work every day to create space so that when I have children they don’t have to go through the same cycles that I and my mom did. It’s an amazing place, even though we have no idea what the future will be like. But I think I’ll be beautiful if everyone keeps their hearts free.
Lisa: Well, I feel a great hopelessness in a part of me, and I feel a great hope because what else can we do? But I don’t feel hopeless and I can easily fall into this abyss. I’m catching up quickly right now, just because I’m overwhelmed, and then I go back to my own world, which I think people should do. They have to look to themselves, to the world they are creating, which hopefully is a kind of sanctuary. And then, if everyone took their responsibility, their self-responsibility and continued to polish themselves, it would resonate in such a deep way.
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