Back in January, the man responsible for the "Harlem Shake" craze, Baauer, teamed up with Just Blaze and gave us the track "Higher" (I'll get to why I haven't mentioned Jay Z in a minute). Today, they released the anticipated short film accompanying the song directed by Nabil who, as you might know, has directed music videos for the likes of Kanye West and Frank Ocean. The short film takes us to Kerala, India where we're treated to an incredible storyline of Kalaripayattu warriors training and competing for power within their community. The film follows a young boy as he learns the ways of the warriors. The film is well shot, has impressive special effects and overall tells a great story, but the music that it was made for falls incredibly short of the level of artistry and effort Nabil put into its development.
This short film deserves better. However, the point of this isn't to completely chastise Baauer and Just Blaze's song; it's merely to point out that there are hundreds of songs that are better suited to go with this film. "Higher" has its place in the music world, but it's not here. The song sounds like every other electro banger I've ever heard mixed with "Harlem Shake." It's hardly original and certainly not as unique as the film that was made for it. Now, if I was rolling face and completely unaware of my state of being, I'd probably go ape-shit for something like this, too, but I'm not. And neither are the people watching this during the five minutes that their boss isn't looking over their shoulder.
And then there's Jay Z. Or, there's Jay Z yelling "Higher" and "Fucka" (at least I think that's what he's saying). According to Pitchfork
, this was a feature for Jay, but I didn't hear any spitting. This says a few things to me about where Hov is in his career. First, he's realized that anything he puts his name on is gold. Hell, MCHG
should have just been called, I Am Midas, Hear Me Roar
. But, we already knew that because MCHG
outsold its originality and creativity by a mile. The only revolutionary thing about the album is the way it was released, which brings me to my second point about Jay: it would seem as though this "King Midas" attitude is affecting the quality of work he's putting out. He's a businessman, he always has been. The guy cut his teeth making a killing selling crack for crying out loud. It will always be about the money. So, while this "feature" is lacking in musical ingenuity for certain, it's an economic home run. There's nothing wrong with that, though. I'll bet a lot of your favorite artists work the same way; it is called the music business
With all of that said, this project seems to be more of an economic ploy than a creative one. No one would still be talking about this Baauer song if not for Jay Z, and they certainly wouldn't have gotten this gem of a short film from Nabil without Jay Z. But I don't know how the deal was pulled off. Maybe Baauer and Just Blaze are the real deal and not just reaping the 15 minutes of fame from "Harlem Shake." Only time will tell, but if this kind of music is getting this kind of video production value without some strings being pulled, I'm a little worried.