“show ya grill if you will, and you down with the trill”

November 2nd, 2011 by | Tags: , , , , ,

I watch a lot of music videos. I usually stream Google or Amazon music at work or whatever, but sometimes I think of a classic (note: lie) that I just have to hear and see at the same time. So off to Youtube I go, typing in phrases like “Ruff Ryders Drag-On” and “Made You Look official” and “Adina Howard” and “Trina Baddest Bitch” and “Curtis Mayfield live.” I’m not sure what my favorite is. Maybe Jay’s “Blue Magic” because the beat is so hard, it’s the last time Jay-Z was actually dope enough to get away with calling himself Hova, and my secret crush is off in there with an ill adidas jacket at (1:48, 1:57, more). NERD’s “Everyone Nose,” both remix and original. I like the original mainly cause Lindsay Lohan is in it and it’s the hardest coke anthem since… ever. Everyone else raps about selling it, not using it. Redman’s “I’ll Bee Dat” is up there. I dunno.

One of my favorite thing about music videos is how they heighten the song when done right. All those early Wu-Tang videos were perfect, “Shadowboxin’/4th Chamber” especially (“I judge wisely” and Method Man’s first verse, hmmmm!). Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” is legendary. Tupac doesn’t have many great videos, surprisingly, but “California Love” is fire. A good video melds into the song and hooks you. It pulls you deeper. I like looking at what people try to use as hooks. Sometimes it’s with a bunch of stupid looking cats dancing in garbage bag suits. Sometimes it’s a chick hitting the back of a taxi in slow motion. Sometimes it’s just flossing in front of as many nearly naked, blurred out, glistening butts as you can. Sometimes it’s stupid. Sometimes it’s cool.

ASAP Rocky “Purple Swag” from Jason Ano on Vimeo.

I watched this A$ap Rocky video a while back. Somebody linked it somewhere or said I should or something, I dunno. It was for his song “Purple Swag.” The song’s aight. The beat is actually pretty tight, to be honest. It sounds like something screwed but not chopped, which I’m very down with. It probably sounds incredible when you’re overhigh, I dunno. It sounds like the type of song that would. And that part where the Akira bells come in is nuts. I’m pretty sure they’re the ones from “Tetsuo”.

Rocky ain’t much of a rapper though. If I wanted to hear that flow, I could just bump old Three-6 or 8Ball&MJG or UGK. In fact, that first verse has a whole lotta Pimp C in it. You can practically hear “Smokin’ out, throwin’ up/Keep a liter in my cup” in his first eight or so bars. Which I guess makes sense, cause of the beat, but whatever whatever.

(Drake was on that Texas steez for a minute, too, and the result was “November 18th,” the hardest song he ever did.)

The video isn’t much to write home about either. Real low budget, 2011 unsigned hype ish. Dudes chilling and lifting weights or drinking or lurking, the occasional girl in the background or somewhere, and some shots outside on a skateboard or bike or stoop or something. Mild house party swag, like an old Ruff Ryders video turned down to 1.

But I really do like one part of this video. Mixed into the chorus is footage of this All-American looking white chick. Pretty eyes, thick makeup, blonde hair, and big ol’ dangly earrings. And before you have a chance to go “aight, cool” the song kicks up and she’s not only rocking gold fronts. She’s lip-syncing the whole joint. Maybe this is internalized racism or something (“I’m a victim, brother. I’m a victim of 400 years of conditioning. My conditioning has been conditioned.”), but the juxtaposition between her appearance, the dragged out and slowed down song, and the chorus she syncs being screwed is crazy.

It’s a better image than the song deserves, I think. It’s not like white girls don’t like screw music (they do) or wear grills (they do that, too). But something about this one here really, really works. It’s like when Method Man showed up with the gross contacts and licked his lips like a lizard or Mary J is singing in the hallway in that “All I Need” video (3:10 and 2:53). I’ve never forgotten those images. And the Purple Swag chick has got so much attitude and energy, like this video is her one chance to get on and she’s not gonna waste it. Her mannerisms are perfect rap sass swag, and she bows out of the video with a nod and a smile like “Yeah, I kilt that.”

And she did.

(I got more thoughts on music videos and strong images, but I wrote this in twenty minutes [more, now that I’ve edited it for links and watched like ten youtubes] to get it out of my head. More later.)

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7 comments to ““show ya grill if you will, and you down with the trill””

  1. My favorite all-time vid is the Going On video that got made for Gnarls Barkley. Most of their videos are actually pretty dope (Smiley Faces and Who’s Gonna Save My Soul are really good), but Going On has some of the best editing on a music video I’ve ever seen. EVER. The way the camera movement shifts subtly between jerky and smooth depending on the pace of the music, the way it cuts so close to the beat but isn’t afraid to shake it up (watch for the double-time cut at 0:36), the way the movement of the dancing plays off the movement of both the music and the camera in different ways at the same time (0:35, for a really good example). The subject and imagery are great too–the story is poignant, and the way they draw the main character and his girlfriend(?) in the last few moments is absolute brilliance condensed into a couple sentences. But the real heroes are both the dancers (because they’re incredible) and to a much greater extent, the editing, which locks you into the groove the moment the beat kicks in and never lets you out.

    Honorable mention goes to Massive Attack’s Live With Me for creating one of the most emotionally gutwrenching things I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. No violence, no gore, no jarring quick cuts, no gross-out. Just beautifully dark filmmaking. There’s an absolutely perfect “oh shit” moment at the two-minute mark that should be required viewing for anyone ever. And the video even feature a sexy lady in her underwear and manages to not only make it not tacky, it just makes the video even more harrowing. I doesn’t hurt that the song is incredible, either. Where Going On is a master-class in rhythm and motion, Live With Me can teach so much about tone.

    Oh, and I agree 100% about the Wu-Tang videos. Grimy, low-budget awesomeness. I’m a Protect Ya Neck fan myself. Raekwon looks really chubby in that video, and the way he swings his arms around is hilarious. And also the rest of the video’s good too.

  2. Ooh! Also–I was surprised that you didn’t mention the guy with melanoma on his cheek from the ASAP Rocky video. For me that was a much more fucked up image than the girl, who definitely surprised me more at first. But as the video went on, I discarded that curiosity in favor of wondering what the fuck Melanoma has to do with smoking weed and drinking. Aside from the purple thing, obviously.

  3. Crap. I hate to post so much. Wish I could just edit this stuff in, but this? The shit. This is the shit.

  4. @Aryeh: That Random Axe video is real hard, yeah! It feels similar to The Roots’ “75 Bars” that Rik Cordero did a few years back. Just real hard raw rapping in front of implied or explicit violence. Something about that always works. I think Pun had a video like that, too.

    The melanoma is interesting. It’s striking (and his grill is ill) but it didn’t strike me as being as hard as the girl for some reason. I think it’s because I just thought of Paul Wall. Maybe trill white (is he white? I dunno) dudes in rap videos are regular to me now.

    Thanks for those recs. I haven’t seen either video, and I’m looking forward to checking them out. And Rae is always entertaining. He’s like a big baby that just happens to move coke. Which I guess might make Ghost a gangly teenager who just discovered abstract poetry, and this is a comparison that is either beautiful or awful or both.

  5. the girl with the grill is a a great bit of dissonance, that totally makes the video. Its so wrong that it’s right. The thing that gets me the most is the part where it slips into the song “Peso” and ASAP Rocky riding on the handlebar of the bike at 1:30. It’s such a Larry Clark moment of putting the coolness of youth on an otherworldly pedestal.

  6. Live.Love.A$AP is quite the project though. Peso’s probably my favorite song of the year that’s not I’ma Boss.

  7. I find rap videos to be really forgettable these days. A lot of that has to do with age. Things just won’t have the impact on me now that they had in my formidable years. I mean, my mind was BLOWN when I saw Ghostface’s video for Indy 500. That was the flyest shit I had ever seen, and totally fit into the whole Wu nature.

    That said, I really like the video for Otis. Oddly enough because it looks like Jay is having hella fun, which is fun to see. Jay is usually so stiff, but he seemed to loosen up on that shoot, and I really enjoy seeing him clown around with Kanye.

    And while it won’t have a lasting effect, I really like The Kid Daytona’s video for So Buttery. I appreciate the “I’m so fly, you can’t ever be as fly as me, kid.” nature of the video. Though I wouldn’t like it much at all if the dude didn’t have skills.