“who’s world is this?” [the roots – undun]

November 28th, 2011 by | Tags:

Here are four promo videos for undun, the upcoming album from The Roots. Watch them in order. They go by pretty quick, and the music is predictably great. There’s an official playlist on Youtube if that’s your thing.

They’re all pretty good, right? I like all of them a whole lot. But “Sleep” is the joint that has my favorite image in the set of four. It’s actually more than an image, I figure. It’s a sequence. It runs from 0:20 to 0:54, more or less, and focuses on the hooded figure that kills Redford Stephens in the first video. There isn’t a lot of action, or any action, really. The most that happens is an old lady walks by and the killer shifts his head as she does. Another man twitches as he dies and people walk past him.

What I really love about this sequence is the bit where Hoodie is looking out over the city. A common thing in movies and books is someone looking out over a city and claiming it for his own. He sees nothing but potential, or something to be violated. A city is something to be conquered and devastated. It’s something that’s full of potential, something you want. You need to have it. Possessing it is a sign of success. When your supervillain, or criminal mastermind, or Tony Montana, or whoever looks out over a city and raises a glass, he’s doing that because he’s looking at his future. L’chaim.

I don’t get that feeling here. Hoodie is looking out at the projects. His future is where he is right here, right now. That’s no future. That’s depressing. Instead of bettering his life, or winning, Hoodie’s best hope is treading water. Here’s your tomorrow, kid, the same as your yesterday. There’s a nihilism lurking in that image if you look close enough, and the black hood gives him the appearance of a Grim Reaper. “The world is mine, but who wants it?”

I like the way the shot of Hoodie on the church steps looks, too. The church is old, and a bit weather-beaten, but it looks strong. It’s weather-beaten because it’s lasted some time, right? And Hoodie is sitting there at the foot of the church, outside its walls, like a black mark. Apart from salvation, but close enough to taste it.

It’s… I dunno, that shot really, really works for me. The closed doors, the empty street, and that lone figure sitting right there. When the lady walks by, she looks at him and then quickly looks away after she takes him in. It’s that thing people do when they don’t want to deal with whatever’s at hand. They do it with homeless people, harassers, crazy people, whatever. We all do it. If you aren’t looking, it isn’t real.

This guy in black… I just realized, but he’s probably a literal manifestation of death, right? He kills the subject of undun, he’s close to the church, he’s faceless, and the way he watches the old lady go by is predatory.

I’m really looking forward to this album.

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3 comments to ““who’s world is this?” [the roots – undun]”

  1. Is that Black Thought underneath the hood? I feel like it is, but I can’t tell for sure.

  2. Got it streaming on NPR right now

  3. […] wrote a little about undun here and here. There’s an iPad app that includes all of the music videos and a lot more promo besides. […]