Two new (and insane) music videos were released this week: Jamie Foxx's "Blame It" and Lil Wayne's "Prom Queen."
Hype Williams presents: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ron Howard, Forest Whitaker, and Samuel L. Jackson in "Blame It (featuring T-Pain)." Besides the "headliners," if you watch the video carefully, you'll be able to spot Clifton Powell, Ced the Entertainer, and Quincy Jones. And without further adieu, here's the video in all its glory(?):
My first reaction upon watching this was something along the lines of, "What the hell? And is this for real?" Well, obviously it's for real. It is the official video for the song. It was debuted on BET last week, and the two VJs hosting the show took it very seriously: "If you don't know who Ron Howard is, IMDB him, man... he's a big dawg!"
But what to think of the video? Directed by Hype Williams, one of the preeminent music video directors of the last two decades, "Blame It" was unquestionably very thought out. Hype's been responsible for many of the most famous hip-hop videos, period. Some of my personal favorites of his are M.O.P.'s "How About Some Hardcore," Wu-Tang Clan's "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta Fuck Wit/Shame on a Nigga," Tupac's "California Love," and Kanye West's "Heartless." I won't bore you with any more of his very extensive videography, but I encourage anyone unfamiliar with his considerable contributions to the music video as an art form to, you know, Google him.
So, this begs the question: is "Blame It" self aware? I am ashamed to admit that at first I was unsure. On my first couple viewings, I was struck by how harmless and goofy the video is. And yet everyone is taking themselves so seriously. Is this supposed to be taken seriously? Was I missing something? Well, yes, I was. This is Hype Williams we're talking about. He basically invented the hip hop video. And this video is rife with hip hop video cliches. Lots of eye candy, lots of celebrities just hanging out, nice cars, nice clothes, expensive alcohol... T-Pain and Jamie Foxx even get into a step line towards the end of the video. As soon as I realized this, I had my answer. Of course this video is self aware. Jamie Foxx and Ron Howard and everyone else know how ridiculous this video is, and so they sell it for all it's worth. Jamie Foxx even dances in a panda suit (which gives the entire video a very psychedelic quality, if you ask me).
There's no question that "Blame It" is a much better video than the song behind it. But that's okay. The video makes up for everything the song lacks. It's nice to see that some people in Hollywood still have a sense of humor about themselves.
Lil Wayne's latest video is a completely different story. "Prom Queen" is the first single off his upcoming rock album, Rebirth. In the video, Lil Wayne is spurned by his high school's prom queen. He goes on to become super famous, and then he gets the last laugh. I really don't have much to say about the video or the song itself. They're both awful. Apparently Lil Wayne has been taking guitar lessons from (of all people) Kid Rock. Apparently he collaborated with Fall Out Boy and Avril Lavigne for this upcoming album. Apparently Lil Wayne is whack as hell. But don't take my word for it:
I think this video, especially when set next to the comparatively brilliant "Blame It," represents a new low in Lil Wayne's career. Maybe some day he'll go back to what he's best at -- cutting underground mixtapes.
I welcome your thoughts on whether you think "Blame It" is self-aware or not. I also welcome your thoughts on Lil Wayne's sad downward spiral.