Dallas based independent blogger and hip-hop curator Rodrick Rules released his latest visual for the single "Us," featuring Que-P, 7 Tha Great, Rakim Al-Jabbaar, and N’Dygo Jonez. March 19 marks the official beginning of spring, but "Us" is a few seasons ahead, presenting viewers with Halloween-esque themes typically reserved for fall. The production of the video suffered a few setbacks, but kept in line with the cliché saying that things typically work out the way they were supposed to.
“We released the song on Oct. 29 of last year with intentions of the visual dropping a couple days later on Halloween," says Rules. "Life saw things differently and we ended up holding off and releasing it on Friday the 13th so it fits just as well.”
Que-P pulls back the curtain a little further, adding, “It was a hell of a ride. We tried shooting the video so it could come out Halloween last year. We spent five hours doing the shoot in October and all of the sudden the footage was corrupted. We just kind of chalked it up to a loss ... then Seven and Rod [Rodrick Rules] ran into each other and set another date. It took another five hours to shoot, and it came out maybe better than the first one.”
As executive producer, Rules selected the instrumental (which was produced by MouseQuake), created the overall theme, and co-wrote the chorus. The meaning of the song is layered and open to interpretation, however Rules believes it’s about looking inward for solutions when problems occur.
“The meaning is simply — we are our biggest enemy in life,” Rules says. “This goes for most situations — the actual root of the problem is our own actions, reactions, toxic ways or a lack of confidence in ourselves. Defeat the enemy within and the external enemies slowly but surely become non-existent.”
"'Us' is about the need for people of African descent in America to start having accountability for our actions and the position we remain at within this society," says Al-Jabbaar, on the song's meaning. "It’s time for us to stop pointing the finger and take back our power.”
Que-P’s explanation comes from a more of a personal, grassroots perspective.
“This song is our take on the downfall of the community we come from," he says. "We all kind of spoke from our own angles in our verses. I came from a perspective of the old me thinking that the new me owes him something; when I say 'held you down on that bid' I'm not referring to jail, but I'm more talking about the willful blindness I inherited by being a part of a culture that was destructive to me and my community. The old me chases the new me down and tries to take me out, which is very telling.”
Those involved with the production of the video were transparent about their efforts to make it an exercise in guerrilla film production.
“We shot it Feb. 26, 2020, in an Airbnb that doesn’t allow video shoots,” Rules says through laughter. “I like to record in places that I’m not supposed to. I’ve been kicked out of several places for getting footage, but I always get the shot I want, though.”
Rules and noted co-director/videographer Huey Rawls of SoNervy Films drew upon inspiration from Jordan Peele’s movie Us, but added their own creative twist to the plot.
“Instead of each of them battling with their clone, they battle themselves as a horror figure,” Rules explains. 7 Tha Great’s “other self” is Candyman, Que-P battles himself as a zombie, Al-Jabbaar’s double is Baron Samedi, a powerful spirit within Haitian voodoo lore who controls the crossroads and death, but who is also a master healer. Lastly, Briana Dior played the demon from The Exorcist.
“In the video this house is known to bring you face to face with your closest enemy, how do you survive that? You got to press play on the video and find out,” Rules says.
Watch "Us" below:
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