Wednesday, August 15, 2007

video #20: El-P - Stepfather Factory

When I first got my hands on the Definitive Jux DVD, Revenge of the Robots, I was actually pretty disappointed by the quality of some of the videos. The label had been putting out some of the best hip hop I'd ever heard -- though this statement probably says as much about than the label -- so I expected their videos to meet the same standard. But the quality of the DV footage on Murs' "Risky Business" and RJD2's "The Horror" left a lot to be desired. I realized that shooting with real film is exponentially more expensive, and that it's not realistic to expect an indie label with a shoestring budget for promotional endeavours to match the quality of anything on MTV. Nevertheless, I felt let down, if not for any truly fair reasons. ("Deep Space 9mm" was the exception to this; dim lighting, shaky camerawork, and a simple but effective concept can go a long way to overcoming such lo-fi limitations.)

I felt the same way about "Stepfather Factory." I can't imagine why, but I just didn't like the way it looked. This seems so strange now, since it's so clearly a work of art as far as videos go. What was I thinking? "Stepfather Factory" was never my favorite song off Fantastic Damage, either, maybe because it was specifically about something that I could not personally relate to. It was also one of the only tracks where the lyrics were completely understandable, so I couldn't just appreciate them for how they sounded. Now they had meaning, and were no longer subjective to me. El-P is a great lyricist, but in this case, I didn't really want to listen to what he was saying. The song sits right in the middle of the album, and always kind of broke up the feeling of nonspecific urban dread that I'd get whenever I'd listen to it. Anyway, Fantastic Damage spent a lot of time in my portable CD player as I walked from the train station to my job in Chicago back in 2002, which is probably the best sort of setting to experience it in, at least compared to suburban commuting or sitting on my butt in front of the computer or anything like that.

The video is directed by some people called Plates Animation, whose website doesn't seem to do anything when I go to it. Apparently they've done a lot of music videos, which I'll have to seek out somewhere else.

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