Friday, February 14, 2014



 Me and my goon was real lit one night, bottle-breaking drunk, swerving through traffic in a vintage Dodge Dart.  With a crooked smile and a long swig of Mad Dog 20/20, I put on an old CD-R mix of Clear Channel rap I'd paid $5 for in middle school.  SILKK THE SHOCKER and TRINA's "That's Cool" started rattling through the sound system.  "This is fantastic," saith my goon, as he located it on iTunes for the reasonable price of $.99.

When we awoke from the revelry we were locked in an uneasy embrace, our limbs flecked with scrapes and scratches of mysterious origin, the Dodge Dart lodged firmly in a ditch.  "Why did I download this garbage?" he whined.  I excused myself from the situation and left my buddy to his automotive difficulties, but the SILKK track still remained in my memory.

I found still more bounty in the video.  After an establishing shot of snow-covered mountains, SILKK smirks through a wink-wink nudge-nudge explanation of the video:  "No, not in Hawaii, not Cancun, not on the beach.  I'm bout to do this thing in Juneau, Alaska!"

The beat, a typical early-00s rap pastiche of vaguely Asian influence, begins as three desperados on snowmobiles tear-ass over a bend of snow.  They proceed to release Hell upon the slopes throughout the video, performing gnarly blowouts and perilous mogul carves, while SILKK joins them via green screen.  His looks are on-point: fur-lined parka, chic skarf, an impressive assortment of knit hats.

What defines this as a product of its era, however, are the goggles resting on his forehad.  We all remember the curious run of goggles as fashion accessory in mid/late-'90s hip-hop, but in this situation SILKK actually needs them.  What do we make of this?  Is it a knowing send-up of the uselessness of Rap Goggles, obligatory realist prop, or merely an off-the-cuff gag?

Intention doesn't necessarily matter, for the goggles signify multitudes, as does the video.  It's a fish-out-of-South-Beach recontextualization of the Bad Boy style rap video, just as much as it is goofy fun, just as much as it is an admission of the same style of video-making's exhausted possibilities.  The automobile and video hoe tropes have been done so many times that the only way to burnish them with some degree of newness is to place them in an outlandish locale.  The cycle continues.

Also, TRINA is a good rapper.