For their first album in seven years, No_One Ever Really Dies, N.E.R.D isn’t shying away from the hard topics.
On their new song, “Don’t Don’t Do It!” featuring Kendrick Lamar and with writing from Frank Ocean, the song addresses police brutality, specifically in the case of Keith Scott who was killed by Charlotte police last year.
Pharrell told Zane Lowe:
I was watching the news. This gentleman by the name of Keith Scott was in his minivan. He was waiting on his child to get off the school bus. The authorities were looking for someone, someone who did not fit his description and based on what the story was, the vehicle did not fit the description either. I’m not sure if the vehicle was even part of the search. For whatever reason they encountered each other. His wife is standing trying to get him, the authorities tell her to stand back. She’s filming the entire thing on her camera phone. She is saying, “Don’t do it. Don’t don’t do it. Don’t do it, Keith. Don’t don’t do it.
The thing that was ironic for me is when she’s saying to her husband, “Don’t do it, don’t don’t do it. Don’t do it Keith,” I’m thinking to myself, all of these unarmed African American motorists—when you do what the authorities ask you to do, I wonder before you die if your conscience says that to you, or asks you or suggests to you, “Don’t do it, don’t do it.” When they tell you to pull over, I wonder if Philando Castile, in his mind, was thinking, “Don’t pull over.” Any of them, I just wonder if they heard a voice in their mind after they were instructed to do something, if they heard a voice saying, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t don’t do it.’ And that’s where the song came from.
You can listen to the single and full interview below. They may both contain some graphic language.