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.
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.)