Before the digital emerge, artists heavily relied on videos to push their music. For Hip-Hop, that promotional model reached its apex in the late 90s, when go to directors like Hype Williams could literally command million dollar budgets on 3-4 minute videos. The reason was a good video could not only stay in rotation for months, but it would make fans rush out to buy your music. That isn’t true today, and many emcees, especially those without major label backing, shoot simple videos almost like afterthoughts. Lil Wayne is hoping to change that with the release today of the socially conscious video “How to Love,” which his team has been lauding for weeks as a “game-changer.” The problem is that the song itself is a blatant, and not well-executed, pandering to pop audiences. Will that matter, or is the video strong enough in its message to give Tha Carter IV its final headed into next week?
The topics in the video are issues that will undoubtedly hit home for a lot of women: child molestation, unplanned pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and bad choices in men. The strongest asset of the video is the fact its a narrative that shows what shaped the protagonist’s mindset and eventual bad decisions. The video then flashes back and shows how that same character could have had a much different path with a stable family life. Aside from some nitpicking like not emphasizing the importance of a positive male/father figure in the flashback and the cheesy ending quote (“Thanks for teaching me how to love!”), it’s commendable that a rapper on Wayne’s level would offer this to mainstream audiences.
In the end, the visuals are strong enough that they enhance “How to Love’s” message, which came off much more hollow with just Wayne’s auto-tuned vocals to go by. The song isn’t going to convert most of Wayne’s hardcore Hip-Hop fans, but this song was never intended for them. Having been, however controversially, called the “greatest rapper alive” for a period in Hip-Hop around Tha Carter III, Wayne has obviously set his sights on becoming a pop star. And with “How to Love” being his second highest chart entry on Billboard (#5), already certified platinum, and being lauded as a “great, creative song” on this very site by a 65% vote, it appears Wayne is on the right track for his pop icon goals.
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