By Edward Henderson
National coverage of police violence towards Black youth had been quiet in recent months. However, with the recent shooting of Texas teen Jordan Edwards by the hands of Officer Jonathan Haber, the national conversation has resurfaced once again. While events were still occurring, the current climate surrounding 24 hour news cycles and trending topics can brush some events under the rugs of our minds. Luckily musicians and artists are always creating work that reflects the times we live in to remind us of the injustices that should never be forgotten.
San Diego based hip-hop artist Riston Diggs and producer Sly Beats created the song “Can’t Remember” to bring the attention of the masses back to police brutality. A short film was recently written and directed to accompany the song by Matt Alonzo. The talented director has worked with the likes of recording artists like Justin Bieber, Tyrese, and Nas. The video will be revealed at 8pm on Friday, May 19th, at the Music Box in San Diego.
Diggs received inspiration to create the song during a period of time when tragic events were all over the news seemingly at once. The South Carolina native was visiting Charlotte, NC during the riots surrounding the Kieth Lamont Scott shooting. Shortly after, he returned to San Diego only to be bombarded with the news and emotion from the Alfred Olango shooting in El Cajon.
“For the first time in my life, it had hit me in all areas. I couldn’t get away from it,” said Diggs. “I never tried to make music based on anything except for what I’m feeling at the moment. That song became that based off of that feeling.”
The song features sound bites from the Facebook Live video produced by Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, as he was shot by a Minnesota police officer with his daughter in the car. Diggs’ lyrics on the track provide commentary towards the profession of police officers along with the political and prison systems that enable them to act with impunity.
“It was one of the worst things that I’d ever seen. It was shocking to me with a girlfriend and a kid in the back. Now that kid’s life is shaped forever based on the police. It stuck out so much because of the situation on how it was recorded. It really hurt me a lot. I didn’t want to riot, or protest it just hurt me because I’m a father of two myself.”
The sobering events surrounding Castile struck an even deeper chord with Diggs because he could have easily met a similar fate with an encounter with police officers in El Cajon.
Diggs and his two daughters were outside of their apartment complex playing with a nerf gun that his neighbors mistook as a real weapon. After he took his daughters back inside, he received a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize asking him to come outside. When he did, Diggs noticed a red dot on his forehead from an assault rifle. He was restrained, and a full task force went inside to search the house for weapons.
“They were coming with the idea to take someone down. Luckily it didn’t go that way. I thought of how quickly that could have gone wrong. I didn’t want my kids to have a bad view of the police based on this situation.”
Fortunately, Diggs was able to avoid tragedy that day. But Riston believes the true tragedy is letting moments slip through our attention span like wet soap when injustice stains our fingertips.
“With all these distractions coming out, we’re not remembering things that happened 3 or 4 months ago. Why are we not trying to remember what happens until it does change? When it changes, then you can start moving on.”
Diggs’ single “Can’t Remember” will be featured on his upcoming album entitled Supreme Confidence. To hear the single and keep up with more of Diggs’ music, visit theblvdexperience.com or like his Facebook Artist Page ‘Riston Diggs’.