“The prettiest people do the ugliest things.”
I’m living in that twenty-first century
Doing something mean to it
Do it better than anybody has ever seen do it
Screams from the haters got a nice ring to it
I guess every superhero need his theme music
(Click for big)
Jay-Z & Kanye West || No Church in the Wild (feat. Frank Ocean)
Romain Gavras has been having an excellent year. It’s too bad that the guy hates being interviewed, because I would profile the shit out of him right now.
Many remember Gavras for his (arguably tasteless) videos for Justice’s “Stress” and M.I.A.’s “Born Free” – they were stuffed with violent imagery that uncomfortably flirted with celebration, or at least gratuitousness. He had a much better time of things earlier this year in his second round under Maya’s wing with the stellar video for “Bad Girls.”
“Bad Girls” was a fun piece of work, and probably Gavras’ best video yet. It cleverly subverted hip-hop tropes and offered a tongue-in-cheek sendup of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Otis,” while toying with Islamic imagery and featuring an all-North African ensemble. Plus: M.I.A. on a sideways car!
The video for “No Church in the Wild” blows it away. What’s most striking is how its form and function perfectly overlap, the way it deploys sky-high production values for an in-the-now depiction of the very real street unrest we’ve seen in Athens, London, Moscow, Paris and New York.
[Sadly, Gavras was a week late to the party: Why do you think Baz Luhrmann used “No Church in the Wild” in the trailer for The Great Gatsby ?]
In other words: Fuck all y’all who thought that Jay and Kanye were reveling in the excesses of our New Gilded Age.
Anyone who gave Watch the Throne more than a cursory listen knew that the album grappled with much deeper stuff than just money and sex: The black experience in America; Struggling with identity despite your outsized wealth because our cripplingly homogenous society still wants you to be silent or entertaining, never heard.
“No Church in the Wild” kicked off an hour and a half of music that many (white) critics roundly denounced as being all about hip-hop’s perceived obsession with wealth and misogyny, as though these things are completely divorced from the experience of Real (white) America. This is a pernicious and racist line of thinking that Jay-Z put to rest in 2003, but it lives on in zombified form.
In Ye and Hova’s case, that means bringing Gavras on board to let them know what time it is. Namely, the world that the oligarchs and plutocrats and Masters of the Universe have constructed for themselves is falling apart. In the shadows of Prague, streets lined with eastern-Euro architecture and brooding angelic statues, a multi-culti mass of street rebels (garbed in Palestinian keffiyas, no less) lobs molotov cocktails at riot police and turns the traditional weapons of the state (horses, gunpowder, lasers) back on their oppressors.
Jay-Z, Kanye and Gavras recognize that our world is a forgery, that the price of wealth and power is always economic deprivation and brutality. Your institutions have failed you. Hip-hop hasn’t.
Sweet baby Jesus, I couldn’t make it in America so I’m leaving.
Oberhofer || Runaway (Kanye West cover)
Ball so hard [Sarkozy] wanna fine me
Kanye West || Theraflu (feat. DJ Khaled)
today was a good day
Occupy the Hood || “Arrest George Zimmerman”
Pusha T || Amen (feat. Kanye West & Young Jeezy)
Wherein the better half of Clipse namedrops Pokemon.