Los Angeles-based Gyasi Ross has shared a new single and music video for “Different,” an emphatically triumphant anthem that unearths all the formative moments of a lifetime of being othered. It’s the first song the guitar-wielding R&B singer/songwriter has shared since “A Song About Hope” from last year. On his newest single and video Ross pens a message to his younger self.
“‘Different’ is me giving younger me advice about how to navigate the world as a black person growing up in America,” he explained. “The music video features a series of tableaus based on life experiences I’ve had.”
“Different” unfolds exactly like that — as a vignette into Ross’ experiences growing up as someone constantly treated as different over the color of his skin. But he doesn’t just stop there, as he tries to make sense of each interaction with the benefit of hindsight, doing the hard work of trying to emphasize with the very people who refused to do the same.
From an elderly woman thinking a young Ross would steal her purse to the vile way a counselor lashes out because of their own lack of self-fulfillment, “Different” takes an unabashed look at not just how prejudice and racism are inflicted. But also how such ideas and beliefs form and exist justified in the minds and hearts of such people.
And he guides these emotionally charged narratives with his dexterous vocals and equally spellbinding guitar melodies. “You’re not a thug from their T.V.’s / They only follow you in the stores because they’re scared human beings,” he coos against the grumbling crescendos that surge to punctuate his words.
The music video for “Different,” directed by Mitchell Arens, drives the transformational nature of Ross’ words home in the most rapt way possible. For the first half of the song, he sits singing in a dark room to his younger self, who sits motionless in front of him. But as a cascade of drums thunder around him, flashing images of the slave trade and the Black families and individuals made to feel subhuman, color is sparked. And as Ross resounds the song’s undying refrain (“You should know that it pays to be different”) his younger self finds his groove, his niche, and dances with all his might right there alongside his older self.
Words by Steven Ward
Watch the music video for “Different” the new single from Gyasi Ross below!