You may remember Willie Jones from his turn on The X Factor back in 2012. The Shreveport singer auditioned with Josh Turner's "Your Man," and he nailed it. But today's Jones, now 26, is a little older, a little wiser, and a lot more adept at blending his signature hip-hop with his genuine country.
The latest proof of that is Jones' brand new video for "American Dream." He penned the song with Jason Afable, Josh Logan and Alex Goodwin, and the video was directed by Jamal Wade.
Here's what Jones told CMT.com about the video he's releasing today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18).
What do you remember most about the day you shot this video?
I remember thinking, "OK, we’re really doing this." It’s always stressful hoping that the visual meets the expectation that I have in my head. When I started seeing the rough cuts between shots, it sank it that this one's going to be special.
And how do you think the video brings your song to life?
Usually, storyline videos lose me. But this one was so visual from the start that it jumped off the page. We could have taken it a million ways -- like using historical footage -- but the way we have it, kids will be drawn in from the animation, sci-fi kids will love it because of the superhero storyline and effects. It just brings everyone in. We thought that was important, to get all generations liking it for different reasons so they’ll see, hear, and think.
What message do you hope your fans take away from the video?
"American Dream" is a true patriotic anthem through my eyes. It’s a story about my love for the country that my ancestors built. Honoring those who have come before me and having faith with those who stand with me in taking America forward. We cannot ignore the fact that so many of our black leaders -- whether they’re civil rights leaders, authors, musicians, athletes or artists -- have propelled the evolution of not just black people but the entire human race. We evolve, and the process must continue. While ignorance and racism go hand-in-hand, they ain’t got nothin’ on intelligence and love. So let’s spread some damn love. All power to the people.
How did it feel to see the finished product for the first time?
When I saw the final edit, I knew this was my most important statement to date as an artist. It’s going to make people think and understand how I see our country, our collective past, and futures. It was captured perfectly: the emotion, the creative use of anime, the message being relatable to so many. I felt relieved and inspired. No joke, I got chills.