I have to thank Nathan Rabin and his column “Then That’s What They Called Music” for the inspiration of this week’s article. It was a slow day at work and I was reading the AV Club where Rabin breaks down an album of Now That’s What I Call Music, the ill-fated music series that takes the best of the year’s singles and compiles it into one piece of shit album. Sadly it has been, and probably will be, one of the best album series ever made. Rabin talks about the state of hip hop in 2008 and brings up Lil Wayne’s single “Lollipop.” So of course, I click on the accompanying video for said song. And it puts me into fits of laughter. The modern music video has become so cookie-cutter that it’s laughable. For example, look at Ludacris’s “Money Maker.” Don’t get me wrong, I love this song. It has Pharrell’s signature production touch that enhances Luda’s sub-par lyrics. But it’s everything you’ve come to expect in an a-typical video from a hip hop artist. Most music videos today are bad, but hip hop and R&B videos always take the cake.
When I think of modern hip hop though it’s hard not to think of Lil Wayne. His music is ridiculously popular and I have no idea why. I even have a couple of his songs in my collection for the sole fact that they’re so bad that they’re good. “Lollipop” is one of them. Tha Carter III won a Grammy for crying out loud. It’s surprising that this song became as popular as it did, considering it’s subject matter. A song about how much an individual loves providing oral pleasure to a female is not gangsta/thug/what have you. As Rabin humorously puts it in his article “In this brave new world, however, no one looked askance at Lil Wayne getting his Auto-Tune on, speak-singing a sleazy, intimate club song for women about how much he loves eating pussy.” He made something unpopular in the pop genre cool. Because he’s freakin’ Weezy.
The “Lollipop” video has everything a modern hip hop/R&B music video needs to have in order for the masses to take it, and Lil Wayne, to the top of the charts. It may not be the best music video. Hell it’s not even good. But this style is the norm now. So “Lollipop” must be doing something right. After some research (and watching more Ludacris videos) I’ve found some common denominators that make for a successful hip hop video. Let me break it down for you…
– Lovely ladies: “Lollipop” is a song all about loving lady parts. So of course “Lollipop” needs to have some hot ladies in it. Every credible hip hop video nowadays has to. Said ladies pile into a limo (we’ll get to that later) and dance around Lil Wayne in tight club outfits, trying their best to look sultry but most of the time coming off as slutty. Then even more hot ladies accompany Weezy to a swank pool party. Booty popping ensues.
– Hot rides: This video has a pretty amazing car in it – a huge-ass limo that looks like it’s a semi-truck. If you’re going to be a hip hop star in the 00s and popular you need like, five cool cars. Cribs taught me that. Lil Wayne has a pretty killer one in this video.
– A cool guest on your single: Now this is by no means necessary. But if you have a cool up-and-comer or hip hop veteran on your track, people will listen to it. Lil Wayne has Static on “Lollipop.” At the time this single came out Static was someone that was going to blow up on the scene. Unfortunately he died before Tha Carter III was released. But his mere inclusion in the video got more people to watch it.
– A “baller” moment: A “baller” moment can be anything really. A hip hop star with a tiger a la Scarface. Walking into the club and finding Ron Howard there. In “Lollipop” this moment comes when Lil Wayne starts playing, and I use the term “playing” here loosely, the guitar on top of the semi-limo. It kind of looks like he’s just moving his hand up and down the neck of the very nice Les Paul guitar. He’s like those kids who go to Guitar Center and ask to play the most expensive guitar on the wall. But do that on top of a moving vehicle and damn, you got yourself a baller moment.
– Objects or places that imply wealth: Bling, expensive drinks, a high-stakes poker game, designer sunglasses, exclusive places where only Weezy can get into. Maybe some pimp lollipops? These things make you look awesome. The more you have, the better your single will sell. No one wants to see a music video where the star is hanging out in some average-looking apartment. You either need to take it to the streets or to the most impressive hotel ever.
– Baseball hats: I don’t get it, but a lot of hip hop videos have the artist wearing a baseball cap. Yeah they look cool, but do these guys like these teams? I have no idea. Either way “Lollipop” has some dude wearing a White Sox cap and that’s cool with me.