Sacramento musicians are paying tribute to Stephon Clark with new singles calling for change and social justice.
On March 23, three hip-hop artists, Kunta, Bornstunna 3G and Noni Blanco, released the first single paying tribute to Stephon Clark just five days after he was shot and killed by two Sacramento police officers.
Their YouTube video “I Am Stephon Clark” starts with news footage of Clark’s brother Ste'Vante Clark pointing to his shirt with Stephon’s picture. Ste'Vante Clark says to the reporter, “You’re going to know his name forever, John. You hear me? You’re going to remember it like, like how you know Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, you’re going to know. You’re going to know him. You know what I mean? You’re going to remember this.”
Then the music starts with the first piano chord as the video cuts to footage from Body Camera 2, taken from one of the two officers who shot Stephon Clark. The music video includes footage shot on the streets of downtown Sacramento, on the I-5 freeway and on the west steps of the state Capitol during protests in the wake of the police shooting.
Sacramento soul and R&B artist The Philharmonik also released a single Friday, one day after Clark’s funeral, called “20 Rounds (Ode to Stephon Clark).” The single released on The Philharmonik’s Bandcamp page starts with a slow fade in of the beat underneath protesters chanting Stephon Clark’s name.
The Philharmonik sings on the chorus:
20 rounds, 20 shots til he's dead
20 rounds to kill an innocent man
20 rounds, how can not be afraid
20 rounds, same shit different day
The Philharmonik’s single includes an artist’s statement that says, “This song is to represent the unjustified killing of Stephon Clark in Sacramento. All purchases will go to his family. There has to be something done about this. Not just songs but we need to do better as a country when it comes to the livelihood of the black community. Stephon Clark should be alive. Period. Oh yeah...black lives matter.”
The song closes with the repeated stanza:
I'll be damned if they gentrify me
After they made my ancestors bleed
Best believe I'mma fight until I'm free
If they won't give us justice, then no peace
... followed by 20 gunshots, the number fired at Stephon Clark.
The Philharmonik was featured on Insight with Beth Ruyak in February just before releasing his self-titled debut album. In his interview on Insight, he cites his mother as an inspiration for speaking out about social justice.
“She always told me to use my voice,” he says. “And she also told me to choose which side you’re going to be on.”