At 12:34 CT, Lupe Fiasco premieres #1234 — one day, FL2, 3 videos, on the 4th of July. "Lamborghini Angels", "ITAL" & "Audubon Ballroom" — all in the 12 minutes seen above.
UPDATE: Some thoughts. Firstly, watch the video first before reading about it below! Watching this without knowing what to expect makes the ideal experience.
So that said, I came away from "#1234" thinking I just watched a well-presented work of art. I loved the structure that got revealed with each song — the video of "Lamborghini Angels" being watched by the young children in "ITAL" and then the observation of that by a group of different types of people in "Audubon Ballroom". I love when visual art is recursive like that, so that first moment of "ITAL" when that became the case was when my interest went up a notch.
I suppose my interest waned a little during "Lamborghini Angels" because of the one critique I have of the video: the use of a kaleidoscope effect. Visually, I've never been a fan of it, like on Miguel's Kaleidoscope Dream cover, or especially in the tacky "N****s In Paris" video. Having a kaleidoscope in your hands is a different story, but it doesn't translate that well to me in video. So while I didn't vibe with the way the video was presented initially, I also realized after second viewing that the kaleidoscope effect was a great way to present the issues Lu talks about in "Lamborghini Angels", like following a materialistic lifestyle or using religion as an excuse to sin. So that said, no beef with the end product. After all, it's Lupe and director Alex Nazari's true vision. Plus, this presentation made the quick text messages even more impactful, which is worth noting to not turn your head from the video for one second because you'll literally miss them.
Moving onto "ITAL" is when the songs take new meaning and connections. I believe Lupe was making a statement on racism with the cop arresting the young African-American child and then the Caucasian child stepping in to watch an orchestra (and not the "Lamborghini Angels" video) and then eventually the news (which Lu has long had criticisms about). The conclusion being metaphoric in two ways: there is racism still alive in today's society and that the youth are being influenced by the ills in the "Lamborghini Angels" video (money, guns, women) with the arrest acting as the foreshadowing of what happens to the youth who follow that path. Those are my basic observations, but I can't help but feel there's more to it. What do you all think?
And finally, with "Audubon Ballroom" (my favorite song of the three), the lasting image will undoubtedly be the KKK Guy dancing during the hook. I couldn't help but share the likely reaction amongst us all of, "Wow. What is going on here?" Lupe's cameo as The KKK Guy at the end certainly becomes the next lasting image as the *wink* certainly intends to drive home his message.
Plus, isn't it cool to see the song's artwork come to life after so long?
However, the *wink* as The KKK Guy is where I'm most unsure of what Lupe intends to convey. I do think he's at least saying that we, as one, can do better and help save the youth. "Audubon" acknowledges the current and changed meanings of "n****" while also celebrating black history. Now thinking of the song in context to the previous songs and videos, I think "Audubon" has an even deeper meaning. This exact idea is why I like music videos that push the envelope and act as a visual extention of the song. And believe it or not, the majority of music videos in hip hop don't come close to doing so, and lack this type of added depth (that's just a side comment on music videos in general.)
So to conclude — let's discuss! What conclusions do you draw about the songs, the structure of the video, and Lupe's overall message? The video is very unique and clearly a multi-layered statement, mixed with new complexities and connections between the three songs off Food & Liquor II. Leave it to Lupe to give no excuse for a mental exercise on the holiday, ha! Happy 4th!