When Chris Brown announced that he would be introducing unheard Aaliyah material for a song, of course heads shot up with curiosity. In fact, the song has been shrouded in mystery with snippets of the song and its music video released online and on mobile apps. Finally, the full official music video was released on June 17th and so far, I’m digging the jam.
The mid-tempo track is a definite head bopper, amping up the urban tone of west coast hip hop and meshing it with unreleased material from late R&B superstar, Aaliyah. Breezy’s vocals are a nice complement to the soulful yet eerie chorus from the R&B princess; however, the verse Aaliyah once sang that was used toward the end of the track is the highlight, a true testament to the raw talent. Of course, anyone living in the time frame of Aaliyah’s musical reign (like me) has biases. This is one of them.
As far as the music video goes – Los Angeles, man. What better way to boast the feel good music than to film it where red cups are littered almost every two blocks. The eyebrow raiser here is the message. The video opens up with an introduction: “Every two hours in America today, a child dies from a gunshot wound.”
First of all, no idea where he got the statistics. Second of all, if you’re going to open up with that, you should probably stray away from misinterpretations and mannerisms that may be a contradiction. Most scenes are black and white with one color highlighted – usually red in one scene and then blue in another. It’s a blatant nod to the rivaling gangs, Bloods (red) and Crips (blue). Brown also sports a button-down with, of course, the top button being the only one buttoned, all the while, he’s throwing up the W’s.
We all know Brown is hood, so there really was no need to reinforce his image or a need to blend in with the Los Angeles natives who joined him for the music video. In fact, it may have been more detrimental as easily influenced youth may pick up his act. This opens up many problems for children and teens who simply don’t know better and are ignorant of how their appearance can impact them. That begs the question, was there even a message at all? If there was, it’s quite subtle. But then again, so is my interpretation of what I’m seeing. Perhaps the music video could have done without the introduction.
Secondly, the song’s mystique can be owed tremendously to Aaliyah. Yet in the music video, she’s simply projected on a back wall, dancing, while Chris Brown basks in the glory of the music video. The song has a significant amount of Aaliyah vocals and just seeing her on the wall wasn’t enough. Wasn’t there something someone could do to give her fans a proper encore? Lest we forget about the Aaliyah fans who don’t agree with Brown using her vocal tracks. They deserve to see their girl too. Yet while Aaliyah is whipping the song around with her verse, Chris Brown turns into cyclops for no good reason and his eyes start glowing.
Nonetheless, if Brown wanted to emphasize the urban streets of Los Angeles, he did that well. The music really encompasses what West Coast hip hop is all about. Chillin’ on the patio with the homies, relaxing, and feeling good. The music taps that subculture and approaches it well in its visual execution.