What’s up with White Jesus?

Sean McTiernan’s first music video involved him a dancing bear, a strobelite, and a tank of nitroglycerine. The Rowlf-the-Dog-looking, swift and excellent rapper Rittz has another video...
By    June 15, 2011

Sean McTiernan’s first music video involved him a dancing bear, a strobelite, and a tank of nitroglycerine.

The Rowlf-the-Dog-looking, swift and excellent rapper Rittz has another video dropping soon and you should be excited. Chiefly, this excitement should stem from the possibility of one of the best tapes of the year so far getting more shine. In addition, however there is also the slight possibility that this new promo will somehow try to match up to the impossibly high standard of weirdness set by Rittz’s White Jesus video.

The video for “White Jesus”seems, for all intents and purposes, to be an excercise in presenting the most crazed and incomprehensible bollocks possible, and then topping itself immediately with an ever more concentrated blasts of bollocks. It’s like being 13 and going over to someone’s house only to discover their brother who is unfeasibly good at Tony Hawk 2 is there. Only instead of gravely watching him stylin’ out on 360 pop-shovits, he’s stringing together exponentially-more-impossible-seeming combos of bullshit. And in the case of White Jesus, said brother has a mohawk and some priest robes.

At the start of the video, you’ll notice it said “Directed by Yelawolf”. You’ll have probably skipped back a couple of times to make sure that’s what it said. However ostensibly bad it is to put the rapper in charge of his own video shoot, putting another rapper in charge seems like madness. This is about the only expectation the White Jesus video doesn’t confound. In the midst of Yelawolf’s various interesting directorial decisions, discussed below, his decision to steal the limelight completely from Rittz and make himself the star of the video is surely his crowning achievement. Save for M Night Shyamalan, you won’t find too many directors with enough guts to make the call that yes, most of the limelight should actually be sent their way.

No music-video cameo has stolen focus so outrageously since Flava Flav waltzed into the What U See Is What U Get video and caused an explosion by putting his hands in the air. This is glory theft on a new level. Even taking into account his directorial role, how did the shit Yelawolf do here even get broached?

“Sure I’ll direct your video man, as long as I get to be a 360 degree strobing pastor that spends the entire video throwing ridiculous shapes. Oh and I plan to finish up with unconvincingly miming the outro.”

How everyone laughed. Well they weren’t laughing when label-head Yela turned up with a fuck-off cross around his neck, rolling 4 green screens and 2 spinning platforms deep. By then it’s bat country, all you can do is grin and bare it.

And Yelawolf’s priestly showboating is just the tip of White Jesus’ insanity iceberg. For instance, what better way to kick off your rap video than with a weird Korean lady who is seemingly a refugee from some Evanescence fan art?

In fairness, said lady rocks the holy goth trinity of running mascara, ostentatious candle holders and mad lacy apparel with admirably stern conviction. So committed is she to it might lead you to believe a mix-up has occurred and somewhere a couple of the ladies from the Rollin Vogues video are in a room with some Witch House dudes and it’s all very awkward. There’s a Portlandia sketch in there somewhere.

Usually inexplicable spoken-word intros on record are explained by the video. Here the obfuscation is only increased, unless there’s a posse mix of Bring Me To Life out there. On a sane earth, this would be the most ludicrous treatment of such a spoken-word sample. In truth, it gets usurped before the video is through.

What follows is a parade of inexplicable shit. The multiple mirrors are refugees from some gothy and forgotten early-period Destiny’s Child video. The font in the credits looks left over from Electroclash, a genre that wasn’t so much forgotten as it was righteously wiped from the collective consciousness. It even has Japanese subtitles. Why? Because The Future is in Japanese, that’s why.

That multiple, strobing, rotating Ritzz clones also feature so prominently in White Jesus may be an indication that maybe we’re living in a post-Hamster Dance internet and that covering the screen with lots of the same dude has gone back to being a regular-old psychedelic signifier. It’s probably less convincing than it’s like to be in that regard, sadly It also accidentally draws a parallel between Rittz’ swift ATL raps and a pitched-up Roger Miller, the most damaging accidental parallel in music videos since Weezer didn’t (or worse, Did) realise filling a video with Youtube one-trick-ponies was basically rubbing everyone’s face in their whole business plan. Safe to say, if you want your rapper to straddle the line between cartoonish and goonish, keep clear of the copy, paste, rotate strategy.

There’s also a PBR wipe to a cod-Dragula-style close-up. This is immediately the (slight) return of the Korean lady, heralded by the rain of tiny, difficult-to-make-out PBR cans. Yep, words fail me too.

There’s a couple of ways it would have been logical for Rittz to approach this video. As a song, White Jesus is a dramatic-sounding, piano-heavy track where Rittz establishes both his persona and style. A gritty and grim slice-of-life video showing him in his natural environs would take the cartoon edge off his image and help establish him as an odd-looking man that is involved in ill shit.

If this sounds familiar it’s because it’s the exact video treatment such a Yelawolf track got, with much success. It announced his personality and added an edge of grit. To maintain both continuity and emphasise the co-sign, the video could have even begun with Rittz stumbling out of the house from the I Just Want To Party video and then going about some dark business. But fuck you, conventional wisdom, Yelawolf has apparently had his brain hooked directly into Deviant Art and is more than comfortable writing Rittz’ chance to establish a brand off as collateral damage.

But you know what? Sure “Pop The Trunk” was a good introduction to Yela, it was also about the level of forgettable drama you could watch on Netflix instant, even down to the color pallet. Far better, impractical as it may be, that Rittz go this Looney Tunes route. Here’s to him recapturing the halcyon days of music-videos-as-strapped-together-jalopies-of-random-bullshit and giving dudes on Tumblr things to talk about aside from him being white and named after a cracker.

ZIP: Rittz – White Jesus (Left-Click)
MP3: Yelawolf ft. Rittz-”Box Chevy Pt. 3″

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