Chris Waters Presents “Road To Damascus”

Midway through the harrowing clip for “Road to Damascus” by Chris Waters, we’re shown a kid shattering a classroom window with the back of his skateboard. He’s running for his life, fleeing from a school that has become a death trap. The impending violence is only the second most frightening thing about the shot. The scariest part of the video is the strangely impassive look on the child’s face. There’s been so much gun violence in the USA and within our educational system that no one is surprised anymore when it happens — not even the victims. Somehow the unimaginable has become commonplace.

But Chris Waters still believes there’s hope for us. The rapper/singer/songwriter is outraged, but he’s not ready to give up. America is reeling from the epidemic of school shootings and mass shootings. Believe it or not, there have been 67 mass shootings already this year in 2023. The most recent being just last week at Michigan State University. Our leaders are either powerless or unwilling to act. Thoughts and prayers will never be enough. But minds can change, and persuasion is still a possibility, and Waters is turning all the rhetorical force he can muster toward that end. His rhymes on “Road to Damascus” are articulate, fiery, and blunt; there’s not a word wasted or a momentary digression. He raps like a man who knows we’re running out of time.

This sort of urgency and commitment to communication isn’t a new thing for Waters. Though his songs are always entertaining, they’re not merely made for the party. He’s motivated by his desire to raise consciousness and restore our collective humanity through music. “Blurry,” his 2020 single, took the pandemic head on and made the rapper’s empathy for the campaigns of social-justice protesters manifest. His 2018 debut single, “Rise,” was a statement of absolute determination and a testament to lessons learned. “Road to Damascus” is just the latest (and fiercest) of his broadsides — a much-needed topical song that matches stinging words to muscular guitar and a huge, relentless, irresistible beat provided by producer Lang Freeman.

Philip Guzman’s video for “Road to Damascus” is just as uncompromising as the song’s lyrics. We’re shown the uncomfortable facts, including an infographic of school shootings across the country that lights up the map with a constellation of flashpoints. Footage pulled from the news and shot inside classrooms makes the crisis palpable to even the hardest-hearted among us. With every frame and every sequence, Waters asks: is this really the nation we want to be? Are we really so callous that we’re willing to do this to our children? Will we ever intervene? Waters is also encouraging folks to share the video with anyone who needs to see it, including government representatives.

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