One Video: King’s Dead by Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, James Blake

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Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.


Kaitlyn: It’s rare in this life to have a co-worker and friend who is so invested in your work and personal life that they will, when approached with a simple question, spin around in their desk chair and growl, “I already listened to your entire conversation, and now I feel used.”

Circuit Breaker editor Jake Kastrenakes is one such person — very rare! — and this morning, he apparently overheard me say to Lizzie, “Should we ask one of the tech guys to tell us what kind of computers are in this video?” Probably he also overheard me say a lot of other stuff he was bored or grossed out by. I guess I wasn’t aware I had an audience. Anyway, according to Jake, after he calmed down long enough for me to point at one of the desktop monitors in the video for “King’s Dead” and ask, “What kind of computer is this?”:

That’s not a computer.

Okay. And then:

It’s probably some kind of CRT monitor attached to any random Gateway from the 1990s.

Lizzie: Except the CRT’s aren’t actually plugged into anything. I guess when you’re a high-powered Wall Street exec these things don’t matter. Haha! I love using Jake’s brain, which is so full of knowledge, except when it comes to anything related to the long-running ABC television series The Bachelor.

Anyway, yes, “King’s Dead” is the winner this week, because our only other option was this Chainsmokers video. And while longtime fans of this column will understand that that choice has its own kind of appeal, it couldn’t compete with Kendrick’s stockbroker alter-ego.


Kaitlyn: Jay Rock is one of Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg label mates, who seems to have won a game of rock-paper-scissors to become the guy who got to post the video on his personal official Vevo page. Good for him! He’s a rapper from Los Angeles, and honestly, I’m unfamiliar with his oeuvre. According to his Wikipedia page, “Rock ultimately chose to pursue a career as a rapper over a life of street crime.” Ultimately I would like to choose a career as a pop star over a career as a blogger. We’ll see.

You know who Kendrick Lamar is, but a relatively new part of his identity is “curator and producer of the soundtrack for the Marvel film Black Panther, in theaters today.” This song is on the soundtrack. I hope Disney paid him so much money, even though he’s already rich.

Lizzie: Future is a rapper from Atlanta, and James Blake is not. In fact, I’m not really sure how Blake, a British musician known for gloomy electronics, finagled his way onto this track, and I say this as a James Blake fan. He shows up about midway through the song for a few lines drowned in reverb before Kendrick picks things back up, like Blake accidentally got stuck between radio stations and somehow ended up with a vocal credit.


Kaitlyn: So much! Jay Rock is wearing a Vetements x Tommy Hilfiger hoodie, which is how I learned that Vetements and Tommy Hilfiger had collaborated on a hoodie. A woman has “Jay Rock” tattooed on her boob. Confetti. Phone cords. Strange sidebar depicting a murder. Kendrick Lamar eats Mexican street corn while sitting in a palm tree in a ski jacket. Kendrick Lamar controls public buses with his thoughts. Kendrick Lamar and Future work in a Wall Street environment, just like Kaitlyn and Lizzie.

Lizzie: The best part of this video is Kendrick’s depiction of office life as an executive stockbroker or whatever Jerry Maguire did (sports entertainment guy). His feet are up on his desk, his tie is around his head, and he talks on the phone while nodding at papers that other men bring to him. I’m not sure why the entertainment industry wants me to fantasize so hard about having a career in the ‘90s, but it’s totally working.


Kaitlyn: Kendrick Lamar controls buses with his thoughts from 3:33 to 3:40, which is not to say that this is the only part of the video you should watch, but just to say that this is the part of the video you should watch the most times. You should watch the whole video and pull it apart — frame by frame — with a fine-toothed comb. I bet there’s some kind of important Marvel Easter egg in there somewhere, yeah? If there isn’t, wouldn’t you still be embarrassed not to have looked very, very hard?

Lizzie: I’d like to talk about the man sitting to Kendrick’s left at 0:21. He looks really flustered, and if you pay attention to what he’s doing, he’s just flipping some papers over again and again. But his haircut, one of those greasy, casual ‘90s cuts with the long bits in the front, makes him look like the guy who used to run things, but now Kendrick, Future, and Jay Rock are in his office, and all he can do is shuffle papers around frantically while his annual bonus vanishes before his eyes.

Update, February 16th, 11:31 AM ET: Updated to reflect that the CRT monitors aren’t plugged into anything. Thanks Dieter!