I've been working with BaghdadBully over the last 6 months and it's been nothing but a pleasure. His music is not only fantastic to listen to, it's personal and often comes with a message. Influenced by BaghdadBully's lyrics and heritage, I envisioned Us as a song that stands up for the forgotten, the oppressed, and applied that thinking to what's been going on in Iraq over the last 12 years.
Watch below before you read my remaining commentary:
The video opens with a clip of then Democratic Senator, now President, Barack Obama in 2002, essentially predicting what he feared - an Iraq that wasn't properly rebuilt after a U.S.-led unjust invasion, and the conflict that went on to foster the creation of the terrorist group known as ISIS. I randomly came across this clip during my search for Iraq war footage; surprisingly I haven't seen it reported on since ISIS entered our vocabulary.
Over the next 6 minutes we're treated to occasional clips from Iraq, both pre and post-invasion - showing the dichotomy between a functioning society and a post-war landscape. For me the stars of these clips are the civilians, all shot before the 2003 invasion; children, men, woman, shop keepers, guys having fun in a bar; these are people who had lives not so dissimilar to our own here in the west, yet they're often forgotten about amidst the fog of an unjust war. I was careful to not use too much war footage as I didn't want this to be a shocking montage of random war clips. For me the clips of death and destruction serve as the counter point to the clips of Iraqi civilians.
The footage I took with BaghdadBully is purposely barren, shot in -35 degree celsius weather, we didn't have much trouble keeping the shots lonely. His walks down the road, through the forrest, and onto the frozen lake act as metaphor for the lonely journey we're sometimes forced to take when standing up for what we know is right. I decided to keep his footage black & white for a few reasons; it looked great, it made the clips of Iraq pop more, and being winter there wasn't much colour in the shots anyway. Despite not wearing gloves or even a coat in some shots, BaghdadBully put on an incredible performance. We were all freezing, so getting the shot in as little takes as possible was important to avoiding frostbite, and he brought a 110% performance each time I hit record.