Odd Future and the Former Mos Def Compete for Your Outrage

Odd Future and the Former Mos Def Compete for Your Outrage
A still from Odd Future's "Rella."
(Courtesy Facebook)

Let’s be clear: There’s no improving on the video for Jay-Z and Kanye’s “Niggas in Paris.” It comes with a warning for epileptics, for heaven’s sake. And we’re willing to admit feeling skeptical about Yasiin Bey — the name recently adopted by rapper-actor Mos Def — making a “conscious” version of the song, calling it “Niggas in Poorest,” and setting it to subtitled clips of Malcolm X and Occupy protesters. Why take a delirious celebration and attempt to make a lesson out of it? In places, though, the spoof’s actually funny (“Who the fuck is Margiela?”), and it’s tough to argue with the parts that are dead serious — child soldiers are indeed bad. But tacking Obama on a gallery of throne-warmers like Bernie Madoff and Saddam Hussein? Pointlessly provocative is about the nicest way we could describe that.

Provocation is clearly the point of Odd Future’s amazing video for “Rella.” There’s not much to make sense of here, though of course you could debate the appropriateness of showing a woman being slapped across the face — or her transforming from a black woman to a light-skinned Asian, for that matter. (For what it’s worth — not much, really — men get slapped, too. At least the redheaded boy doesn’t get shot.) We’re willing to bet, though, that Odd Future wish they’d thought to include child soldiers.

“Niggas in Poorest”