Monday, 29 January 2018
An appreciation of the Nuthin But A G Thang video
I put The Chronic on for the first time in a while recently. The first thing I thought off during the intro was that I had about the half the tracks off the album recorded off Westwood before buying the tape and eventually playing it so often that the print wore off on both sides.The second thing was how great the videos for the singles were. Dre Day tends to get the plaudits for lampooning it's targets, but I think Nuthin But A G Thang could well be the greatest synergy between rap audio and video ever. It captures the vibe of the track perfectly. The simplicity of 2 rappers going back and forth over a smooth-ass loop accompanied by what's presented to us as a typical day in their life: driving about, getting high and partying. No limo to a strobe filled nightclub VIP section, no fish eye lenses, celebrity cameos, speedboats or Scorsese rip offs going on here. Strictly car share, barbecue and beers.
For those of us outside of California (specifically 14 year old white kids in the UK), the visuals helped us make sense of the music we were obessesed by, and gave the music added authenticity which back then could be the difference between sink or swim for a rapper's career. Boyz N The Hood had come out the year before, and there'd been videos like Ice Cube's Steady Mobbin but somehow the G Thang video took all the key ingredients, squeezed them into just under 5 minutes, and had the song of the year as the soundtrack.
I think it was Stetsasonic's Daddy O who observed that G Thang was a really brave lead single, given how against the grain it was when it came out, by taking it back to the old school (It's like this and like that and like this...' is about as late-70s-park-jam a hook as you'll find)
Pretty ironic given that the parties involved came to represent everything the Real Hip Hop brigade would come to hate, but that's rap music for you.
With all that in mind, I thought I'd break down my favourite rap video of all time. DJ Charmaine Champagne: your time...
0:18 - Dre does his best not to be intimidated by the hard lads lifting weights in the garden and strolls up the path putting on his best 'just had a pretty tough work myself!' face, while willing someone to open the door ASAP before one of the goons tries tapping him up for money or a studio session.
0:37 - "I hope you taking him out to find a job!" comments the slob dude on the couch who may or may not have ended up with a guest verse on of those terrible posthumous 2Pac albums a few years later.
0:50 - "What's up Dre I heard your new album it's the bomb" - cruelly overlooked at that years Oscars, there's a good chance this young lady ended up being the source of the insane amount of unreleased Death Row stuff still making it's way on to the internet 2018. After all, if she'd stolen the demo/promo of The Chronic out of Snoop's bedroom god knows what else she got hold of.
1:04 - Cars. blue ones, red ones. The flyness starts here.
1:27 - I've often wondered what this bird with the paperwork is up to. She's either in charge of the volleyball game (which as we'll see shortly, didn't really look that formal) or she's like those mums in your office who are constantly trying to get the whole company to sponsor her kids for a fun run. She might be petitioning to get speed bumps and bollards fitted to stop all these people blocking the car park like they did with the boy racers at the drive-thru Burger King near me back in the day.
1:43 - Snoop is not down to make eye contact here. Weird how he's not comfortable in front of the camera and ends up being one of the biggest celebs on the planet despite spending 20 years just rapping variations of the same 2 verses.
1:56 - The dude manning the barbeque is holding heat, just in case you thought this was all sunshine and butterflies like a Fresh Prince video. When I was making notes for this I jotted down 'meat and guns' which would've been a great title for an early 90s regional gangsta rap album.
2:03 - In contrast to Snoop, Dre is confident on camera. He knows he's on to a good thing with this Long Beach lot and he's clearly the only one present who has done this before, turning in his best on screen performance since Jimmy Z executed the Funky Flute on some rap game Jethro Tull isht.
2:25 - Boobs! Bantz! The world was a much more fun place before social media became a platform for idiots to find offence in anything remotely enjoyable. Consider this: we'll never get to see Carry On Crenshaw in 2018.
2:34 - An iconic moment in Hip Hop History as Warren G gets caught on camera skinning up. Without this do you think rappers would eventually be comfortable posing on Instagram with suitcase size ziplocks of sticky green?
2:43 - More cars. The DOC might be the coolest person in LA at this point.
2:58 - The party looks live enough without losing it's realism. I once read that the dance everyone is doing here is called The Tilt. You probably can't do much else with a firearm wedged in your waistband.
3:06 - The DOC goes to the well stocked fridge. No danger of a midnight run to the corner shop for a bag of cans at this party. This shit its organised down to a tee. Maybe that's what the lady with the paperwork was sorting out earlier.
3:16 - The stuck up Hilary Banks type girl appears. She seems to have some issue with the cleanliness of the hand rail which is not entirely unreasonable tbh. Also, I feel you have to give Dre props for going with her and not some bespectacled nerdy white guy, as that was often the comedy target of choice for rap vids despite the lack of plausibility of someone like that being at such a social occasion.
3:43 - Hilary is not happy. She looks like the type to keep pestering the DJ for "something she can dance to" when he's in the middle of a rap classics set and getting ready to draw for the reggae selection.
4:08 - She gets drenched. Then presumably she fucks off home after her friend that bought her along makes some half hearted attempt to get her to stay while praying she won't so she can slope off upstairs with RBX.
4:20 - Snoop gets dropped off home, staggering up the path. Spends the next day regretting everything and ordering Dominos while trying to come up with a solid excuse for phoning in sick on Monday.
So fucking good. Jeff Weiss actually lives in LA and wrote this much more eloquent and sincere piece about The Chronic just last month. Go and read it. Also, 6 years ago there was a piece on Ego Trip about the making of the video - Go here.