The Spike Jonze-directed video for Jay-Z and Kanye West's “Otis” debuted late last week. In it, the two professional luxury shoppers (and occasional rappers) gallivant around in a modified Maybach while rapping in front of a giant flag. If you've somehow missed it, knock yourself out.
While it's pleasing to see Jay and 'Ye crack smiles, it's not exactly the most taxing of the director's treatments — it's certainly not Jonze in Bjork mode, for instance. But, then, that's likely the point: To smack home the idea that when you're a member of the ultra-rich rap club, you spend your idle mornings racing souped-up sports cars around Kanye's backyard (which appears to be a pretty barren and industrial environment). In any case, with Watch The Throne fever still very much in effect, here are five of Jonze's altogether more inventive rap flicks.
5. Kanye West, “Flashing Lights”
More sports car shenanigans! This times Jonze opts for slow-motion, as a busty lady exits what the Internet assures me is a Ford Mustang Bullit, struts around a bit in the dusky night, burns her clothes, and then opens the trunk to reveal Kanye tied and bound up. She then mushes him to bits with a spade. At the time of writing, Roc-A-Fella would not confirm that the sequence was originally 'Ye's third unsuccessful attempt to pen an episode of Law & Order.
4. MC 900 Ft. Jesus, “If Only I Had A Brain”
“Attention morons and idiots: Buy a brain.” So reads a classified ad that inspires turn-of-the-'90s alt-rap practitioner 900 Ft. Jesus to package himself into a cardboard box and mail himself to the company's headquarters. Filmed largely inside the box, the MC whiles away his time in transit by smoking a pipe, enjoying a private disco, and sipping a cup of tea. He also knits. Alas though; he ends up right back where he started from. (More confined spaces: Jonze's treatment for Marxist rap troupe Marxman's “All About Eve,” which uses the inside of an elevator.)
3. The Notorious BIG feat 112, “Sky's The Limit”
A simple but smart premise: A bunch of kids dress up in garish golden Versace garb to play Biggie and his Junior Mafia cronies, as they lounge about in a veritable player's mansion. The young 'un with the uncanny resemblance to Big understandably hogs the screen time, but a fine supporting role comes from a chunky over-sized cellphone (insert your own Zack Morris joke). With a warm and tender vibe, the flick is a fitting visual accompaniment for one of Big's most uplifting songs. (More youthful Bad Boy antics: Jonze takes Puffy's posse to a high school prom for “It's All About The Benjamins (Rock Remix)”.)
2. The Beastie Boys, “Sabotage”
Jonze's relationship with the Beastie Boys kicked off with the raucous skate-based video for “Time For Livin,” but it was the the later “Sabotage” that caught the wider world's attention. A hammy spoof of a '70s cop show, the short saw the Beasties taking on the roles of characters like Alasondro Alegre (as “The Chief”) and Vic Colfari (as “Bobby, The Rookie”) while rocking a fine range of short-sleeved shirts and carefully-cultivated mustaches. Skip to just after the one-and-a-half-minute mark for the obligatory donut footage.
1. The Pharcyde, “Drop”
Aka the one where L.A.'s oddball rap crew rapped the lyrics to its Beastie Boys-sampling song backwards, so that the filmed footage could be re-played backwards to give off the impression that everything is going forward. But also kinda backwards. Those red balls on the stairs are bouncing upwards, but the rappers are also walking forward. Or something. Fifteen years on, extended study of the brilliantly-disorientating video can still warp your brain. So just sit back and enjoy the crew's truly bizarre ride. (More 'Cyde: Ex-member Fatlip's touching “What's Up Fatlip?”)