On Tuesday, December 14 the online Christian hip hop world was atwitter about Mark J’s video for “Tumbling Down.” Here’s my take:
First, the compliments:
- The clip is nice – real nice.
Space Cherry Films provides a clean look, crisp and not overly flashy edits, and great locations.
- It fits.
The video also craftily illustrates the storyline of the dramatic track. Making a music video a literal interpretation is always risky, but for a narrative song like this, it’s a nice marriage of lyrics and visuals.
- It’s well acted.
The central character’s face reveals both fear and strength in a moment we can fully imagine. The actor playing his younger self and many of the extras also carry their weight.
- It’s creative.
The camera tumbling to the ground as a first-person perspective of the clip’s climax was a nice choice that was used in a measured, yet powerful, dosage.
Although I know it was somewhat of a highlight and a definite marketing hook, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the cameos – both listed and unlisted.
Before the release, we were given a teaser clip that highly touted the fact that 116 Clique member Sho Baraka would play the lead role. Shortly after, there were promotional Tweets and online campaigns asking us to guess which other Christian rappers (Brinson and Eshon Burgundy) were behind masks as the story’s villains.
As a result, even upon my first viewing, I couldn’t get past the fact that in the back of my mind I was watching people I know as MCs instead of characters committed to a plot.
Don’t get me wrong, cameos from other artists on record or in a video can be a great add. It’s when they’re asked to become someone else that I start to get hesitant.
Maybe it’s just the music nerd in me. I felt the same way when I saw Trip Lee’s “Invasion” piece. Instead of thinking, “Hey, here’s a guy looking for ‘The Hero’” I thought, “Oh look, there’s Sho, there’s Knowdaverbs.”
It’s a great storytelling song from Mark J and very good video. I just wish that going into it I wasn’t prepped to play a “Spot the Rapper” trivia game.