Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One” Video: High Art or Middlebrow Mumbojumbo?

01/04/2010 9:39 AM |

Jay-Z On to the Next One video

The video for “On To The Next One,” the Swizz Beatz-produced banger that’s still one of my three favorite tracks off Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 was released last week, and it’s another super-sleek, black and white affair—as were the videos for “Forever Young” and (mostly) “Empire State of Mind”. The Sam Brown-directed video takes up the visual motif of 3s that was featured on the album cover, with trios of milk bottles, bullets and dudes in grotesque, Joker-ish makeup.

The abstract, montage-based video also has a samurai woman jumping in slow-motion with attendant billowing capes and straps, a couple dancers on piles of luggage, a visual equalizer made of electrical chords, and, my favorite, milk and flaming basketballs dropping in super-slo-mo.

The most conspicuous visuals (aside from Swizz Beatz hogging the camera) are three crystal-encrusted Damien Hirst skulls (pictured), which are doused in paint. At $100 million a pop, this gesture makes the video both the most expensive ever (okay, they probably used replicas, but still), and a brilliant piece of appropriation art and criticism. In the space of a few frames, Jigga reclaims a piece of fancy jewelery that’s been masquerading as art for far too long, effectively turning it into a canvas for an abstract expressionist drip painting. Factor in the Koonsian shininess of the tagged Jaguar that appears during the first verse, and Jay just might be New York’s most astute art critic.

3 Comment

  • Speaking as a visual artist (and curator), I thought this video was brilliant. I didn’t always think that though. The first time I saw the video, I thought ‘that’s it?!’ However, the video stayed in my mind, I watched it again and again… not realizing that every time I watched the video, my jaw was dropped in awe of the next visual imagery. What I initially thought was a collage of randomness soon became innovative in the camera work, costume, juxtaposed imagery, and so much more. He’s really on to the next one. This work is truly art.

  • that’s the purpose of the video…to “suck you in” so to speak. At first glance, it is mesmerizing etc etc. But slow it DOWN and really analyze it? It’s CRAZY…doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. I mean come on…why have a Jesus cross between two bullets…the dark, hooded guy with the tattoo and black lipstick, the goats head, the skulls with what – chocolate syrup? That heffa that’s dancing “seductively”,the lady in white, the ink spots, etc the list goes on and on. Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Jamie Foxx, Usher, etc…they are all just money hungry sick and lost individuals. Wake up people!!!