Just recently in the realm of Hip-Hop and especially within the world of Artistic archeology and its multifarious forms and fellows, the German-born but U.S. raised Rapper J. Cole [Jermaine Lamarr Cole], with the support of his team, has finally released a previously undisclosed music video entitled, ‘Fire Squad’, a playful [cinematic] chide against mainstream, musical oligarchs and the requirement for personal action in the cultivation of a better future. One line reads as the idée fondamentale of the entire video, the line depicting the cyclical nature of the antagonistically self-eating world which we call music, “History repeats itself and that's just how it goes, same way that these rappers always bite each other's flows.” Reminiscent of George Miller’s 2015 Mad Max and its post-apocalyptic disposition towards humanity, although having a much more personal connection towards the African-American [via the continental African] experience as understood by J. Cole, what is created is more akin to a ‘Hip-Hop pseudo-documentary’ than a common, everyday music video.
Even though modern names are used [ Iggy Azalea, Eminem, Justin Timberlake, and Macklemore], they are not the focus, nor even the thematic focal point which J. Cole is trying and is stressing with his visuals. Rather, he focuses on the becoming, the future of what could be with those who live within the ever-shifting tides of modernity, in all his backward colors and shades. “While the people debate who's the king of this rap game, Here comes lil' ol' Jermaine,” and with these words, he beckons you to stare right into the eyes of a definitely assured, young African girl who, ostensibly by her clothing, has either come from or is attending school. The song ‘Fire Squad’ was originally included on his 2014 Album '2014 Forest Hills Drive’ which, to no one’s surprise due to its high ratings from critics and reported ‘353,000 sold copies’, was subsequently nominated for Best Rap Album at the 58th  Grammy Awards [it lost, unfortunately]. This release comes upon the now two days old rumor that there will be an album release in the near future, the content in question being the Album ‘The Fall Off’ which has had no official release as of December 11th. An update posted by HNHH’s Alex Zidel has said that there is to be no release, these statements are sourced from New Zealand-based Radio show host Zane Lowe [Alexander Zane Reid Lowe], however, this is contested with provided Twitter posts ‘connecting the dots’, although the crumbs are sparse.
Returning to the video itself, J. Cole uses the depiction of two African children playing football [American soccer] as a metaphor for his endeavor in the Rap Industry, the usurping of power from the stagnated ‘giants’ who only remain giants because we let them. One child is beaten and falls but, with determination and a drive to succeed in his eyes, gets ups and tries again. Panning through different African faces all joined together with various forms of one facial expression depicting sheer perseverance, J. Cole continually, and with great ease, shifts from dust-kicking cars and fearless children and adults to scenes of communal sodality, unaccompanied meanderings, and environmental shots. The very last couple of scenes are the most impactful, however, as a boy in a strikingly red shirt lifts his arms to the heavens as if both reveling in his courageous acts, but likewise acknowledging the power of the Divine powers that be. J. Cole is then seen copying these actions while an orange race-car, which was featured throughout the video, drives along a coastal highway. More specifically than 'the final scenes', the last 15-20 seconds need and should be watched over and over again, as a young schoolgirl [another motivic figure throughout the ‘music video’] says, “You and I...Different kind of skin...Two different minds,” while a deeper-voiced, unidentified person says the very last words, “One God”. Indeed, there is one God, and he has made everyone equal, so stop acting like you’re better than anyone else. Who cares if you’re rich, what kind of person are you? You'll be judged too, don't forget that.
Writer: John David Vandevert [Johndavidvandevert.com]