Maroon 5's PJ Morton stars alongside his 7-year-old daughter Peyton in the new music video for "Buy Back the Block"

By Brianne Tracy
July 15, 2020 10:00 AM
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PJ Morton is continuing late rapper Nipsey Hussle's legacy.

In the new music video for his song "Buy Back the Block," premiering exclusively on PEOPLE, the Maroon 5 keyboardist, 39, honors the life of Hussle — who was fatally shot in 2019 — and the ways he invested in his South Los Angeles community by taking to the streets of his own hometown, New Orleans, and donating to residents in need there.

"It really resonated with me how much he said about his community," Morton tells PEOPLE. "Not just said, but his actions back that up with the way that he invested in his community. It just really touched me. Here in New Orleans, I took it as my marching orders for his death to not be in vain and for the mass marathon to continue. I felt like, okay, here in my city, I want to start promoting that same message and try to invest in my community as well."

"Being a musician, I thought that it'd be good to have some theme music to go along with that," he adds. "That's where the song really came from. New Orleans has been such a big part of my life and my career. So, it's only right for me to give back to my home."

PJ Morton; Nipsey Hussle
Neilson Barnard/Getty; Randy Shropshire/Getty

In the opening sequence of the music video, a voice can be heard saying, "Never has there been a more important time to understand the value of the Black dollar." It's a message Morton's father instilled in him as a young kid.

"My father was very knowledgeable and very aware of understanding our power," he says. "When he moved to New Orleans from Canada, he wasn't able to get a loan for the church that he was building at the time, the ministry that he was building. Liberty Bank was the one that gave him a chance and took a risk on him."

When Morton was 12, his father opened up his first bank account for him at New Orleans' Black-owned Liberty Bank, which his friend and fellow Morehouse College grad Todd McDonald is now a vice president of.

"We grew up down the street from each other, so it's all in the family," Morton says. "I was pretty aware of the Black dollar early on in my life. Unfortunately, that message is still so needed and still so necessary to be amplified. I think right now is an important time to be amplifying that message even more."

PJ Morton
Keith Taylor

After the music video's opening sequence, Morton is then shown driving around New Orleans with his 7-year-old daughter Peyton as they make stops to drop off $500 each to a recent college grad tasked with covering her family's medical expenses, a single father of twins and a couple with a newborn, all of whom lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic. In addition, they help an elderly husband and wife whose home is on the verge of foreclosure.

"I got the director and his team to pick the people," Morton says. "So, I actually didn't know any of the people. For me, I wish I could have given $500 to 5 million people. But, we had to work with what we had. Shout out to Liberty Bank, who partnered with me, to allow me to do it. Hopefully we can make it a regular thing and give back more when we can."

Morton says Peyton is a "daddy's girl" and couldn't have been more excited to be a part of the music video. She's also featured on the recording for "Buy Back the Block," which is on Morton's three-time Grammy-nominated album PAUL.

"Any opportunity to hang with me is great," he says. "She's got a voice, she's a singer. I taught her how to play 'Buy Back the Block' on the keyboard. She and her older brother are singing in the background of the actual song. Any opportunity to get out of the house right now we were happy with."

PJ Morton and his daughter Peyton
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

A proud "girl dad," Morton says he's teaching his daughter "that there aren't any boundaries."

"I grew up with a very strong mother, who was and is a leader," he says. "My wife is a very strong woman. So I'm teaching her that she's not limited to anything because she is a girl. I let her understand that she can be anything. She seems to understand that. My daughter's very confident, very strong, very smart and we're very close. That resonated with me big time when 'girl dad' was going around, that hashtag."

Morton says he's also passing down the lessons that his father taught him to Peyton and his two sons, who are 11 and 15.

"I'm continuing the legacy," he says. "My dad always told me, 'You can't teach other people, if you're not teaching it to home first. Home is your first audience, it's your first congregation, it's your first dance.' So, it starts here in the home."

While under lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, Morton says he has started using films as "conversation starters" with his kids about inequality, systemic racism and police brutality in light of the recent death of George Floyd.

"We watched Ava DuVernay's 13th on Netflix," he says. "I wish I had that movie when I was a kid to connect everything and understand. We're not taught that in schools, we're not really taught our history. They're already aware, unfortunately, because of the internet and the world we're in. But I wanted them to hear it from me and put it all in perspective."

"Hopefully some of the systematic things that were put in place are shaken up and crushed and burned down to get to a place where they're not dealing with things I dealt with," he continues. "And definitely not things my parents and grandparents dealt with."

PJ Morton
Matt Robertson

Morton hopes that "real change" comes out of the ongoing nationwide protests.

"We've been protesting since the '60s," he says. "The protesting isn't new. It looks different, though. It's not just Black people protesting, and I think that is a positive change. But what I hope to come out of it is not rhetoric, it's real changes from the top down."

In the future, Morton says he'll continue his partnership with Liberty Bank and working towards "buying back the block."

"I'm working with them on programs to make it even easier for people to invest in real estate, which is how wealth is created in our community," he says. "Look out for more programs."