Drake’s new video, for his single “Over”, is one of the smartest hip hop videos ever made.
It contains none of the visual tropes (conspicuous consumption, strippers, cars, a bunch of nameless ‘friends’ in the background) typical of a hip hop video. In his video “Over”, Drake ponders the trappings of fame, its transformative effects, and the possibility of humanity in a world where over-the-top consumption is key to credibility. Which, I know, seems like a lot for a single hip-hop video. But, It is self reflective in a way that mainstream music always refuses to be. For a song about fame as an end, and losing sight of oneself, director Anthony Mandler succeeds in creating a succinct but visually compelling piece.
The video takes stereotypical rap images and distorts and maps them all over Drake’s body, while he sits alone in an empty hotel room. This is genius. Well, perhaps it is as genius as a music video can be.
The song talks about all the familiar trappings of rap-fame, but, by showing the opposite, the video reveals the inherent dichotomy in hip-hop, something Kanye West has touched on a few times (namely “All Falls Down”). There seems to be this disparity between being real and being rich. In a world where one’s credibility hangs on by the skin of his staying true to himself and to the form, money constantly obscures his reality. In this video Drake is ostensibly struggling with the transition his career has brought upon, a transition he welcomed but now feels trapped by. It is definitely a mature song for such a young artist, and the video, even more so.
Also, just as a side note, including the homage to Dead Prez’s song “Hip Hop” only goes to affirm this song’s discourse about the form. That is a calculated decision that puts Drake’s song in the same conceptual space as DP’s. It’s also a nice reference to one of the greatest rap songs ever.