Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Show Me" By John Legend

I was at my loctician's studio getting my locs refreshed when this video came on BET. I almost want to say it was a mistake on their part, because it's naturally above and beyond their usual fare, but being that John Legend's a household name now, I imagine they simply wanted to cash in. But it's not that simple...

I put this next to Dead Homiez by Ice Cube; for different reasons they are equally troubling. An interesting exercise in expressing the power of words and visuals would be to switch the music for each song to each other's visual. Just picturing that in my mind says John Legend comes out on top because what he is saying is so universal and certainly applies to the subsconcious of ghetto youth. Cube is certainly on-point in terms of what's been happening, but it's so literal and seething, yet disconnected from emotion that it startles you with it's bleak and glib vision. Legend is part of the scene, yet disconnected from the action like an apparition or the conscience of the subject in the video; reaching out, trying to connect his spirit and either guide or redirect with what's happening through his voice; the tragedy being not that he cannot, but that he tries and fails, which brings you to the kicker at the end.

Oh, if only Alicia Keys had been so bold as to visualize No One beyond the obvious...

Simply put, I am haunted by this song. I remember reading about the event that inspired this, but it didn't hit me then like it does now. There's a unique quality about John Legend in this video that transcends the visuals and squeezes your throat. I think of someone innocent who is at the crossroads of a spiritual journey and is begging for just a hint that it all matters.

My roommate, who doesn't think it matters, was nevertheless struck by it as well, which is saying a lot. Take what you want from it, but you will be affected.

I'm also posting a YouTube link to a video of John Legend performing this song live at the Royal Albert Hall. Compare the video with the live performance and let me know what you think or feel.

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