Acclaimed blues-soul musician Gary Clark Jr. has graced us with a brand new single, “This Land”, taken from his forthcoming third full-length album of the same name. Premiering a political video to go with it, he shows no fear in making a bold statement towards racist America (much to the chagrin of some in the comments), and giving us a blunt taste of what his upcoming album is really going to be.

Clark’s sound (often described as “the crossroads of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz, hip-hop, reggae and punk”), and lyrics that are often deeply personal, is unlike anything we’ve seen before. And he takes it even further with this one, with lyrics not only personal, but filled with the sharp bite of a righteous rage. Even the first line packs a punch, as racists are angered at his black achievement, and the chorus sees him responding to a common verbal attack. “I just went in there and fired off,” he says.

But while every element of the song feels so carefully curated and intentional, you’d be surprised to know it didn’t start that way. According to Clark, it started as just a simple, freestanding beat that he conjured up a while ago while working on a project in LA, and sat on it for a long while before knowing what to do with it. It was a deeply personal situation, however, that actually inspired the lyrics, and propelled the song to what it is today.

“I grew up in the south, in Austin, Texas. I had a few situations down there with some racism, and some Confederate flags, and people calling me out of their trucks, and all that kind of stuff,” Gary Clark Jr told Beat 1’s Zane Lowe. “It wasn’t an everyday thing, but I recently had an incident in my neighborhood with that, in front of my kid. He was asking me what was happening and I didn’t want to explain to my child why this guy upset me. I didn’t want to explain to him at three and a half years old because he doesn’t see that,” Clark continued. “It just made me so angry. So we got ‘This Land’ after that.”

And angry he was: the song and short film were his chance to do something. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Savanah Leaf, it makes a bold, scathing statement against modern American racism, with the video emphasizing how little times have changed. Young characters struggle with the sight of the confederate flag flapping in the wind, chilling reminders of time having gone by, but racism still lingering. The symbol of the Confederate flag makes its way into the visual quite a few times, and in each instance it hits just as heavy as before, reminding us of a time we’re not so far removed from. Thought-provoking lyrics outline point blank what it means to be a black man in America, to struggle with feelings of alienation and dis-belonging.

Following the release of his album (due out March 1st), Gary Clark Jr. will also embark on a massive tour, with a few multi-night stints at well-known venue the Beacon Theatre (NYC), as well as the Chicago Theatre and Boston’s House of Blues. Tickets are available here, and comes with a standard CD or digital copy of This Land.

As for whether or not the entire album is going to be as heavy-hitting as this single, we can only speculate, but given that it shares the same name, we can only imagine that that means Gary Clark Jr. has lots to say about This Land we all call our home.

Tour Dates:

09 – Miami, FL // Fillmore Miami Beach at The Jackie Gleason Theater
10 – Tampa, FL // Gasparilla Music Festival
13 – Springfield, MO // Gillioz Theatre
14 – Columbia, MO // The Blue Note
15, 16 – Chicago, IL // Chicago Theatre
18 – Indianapolis, IN // Old National Centre – Murat Theatre
20 – Pittsburgh, PA Benendum Center
21, 22, 23 – New York City, NY // Beacon Theatre
26, 27 – Boston, MA // House of Blues
29 – Philadelphia, PA // Met Opera House
30 – Washington, DC // The Anthem
31 – Richmond, VA // The National
02 Durham, NC // Durham PAC
03 Charlotte, NC // The Fillmore Charlotte
05, 06, 07 Nashville, TN // Ryman Auditorium
04 – Atlanta, GA // Shaky Knees Music Festival
25 – Napa, CA // BottleRock Music Festival

THIS LAND track listing (available for preorder here):
This Land
What About Us
I Got My Eyes On You (Locked & Loaded)
I Walk Alone
Feelin’ Like A Million
Gotta Get Into Something
Got To Get Up
Feed The Babies
Pearl Cadillac
When I’m Gone
The Guitar Man
Low Down Rolling Stone
The Governor
Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow
Dirty Dishes Blues
Highway 71
Did Dat