Music Video of the Day: We The People…. by A Tribe Called Quest (2016, dir. James Larese)


I figured it was appropriate to follow up Fight The Power by Public Enemy with this music video. I think the music video does an excellent job. I was going to try and interpret the whole video, but I have trouble with lyrics and what I see as the ending, seems to be in direct contradiction with what the director says he intended in the behind-the-scenes video at the end of this post. So, I’ll leave it mostly to you.

I cannot let the post go without mentioning my thoughts on the ending though. The video would appear to have the people following the cords that should lead back to the band. The director even says in the behind-the-scenes video that they do arrive where the band is broadcasting from. But that’s not what you see in the video. It almost gets there with the people running down what should be the tunnels leading to the room, and you can even see a shot in the behind-the-scenes video with them in the room, but it isn’t in the video. I have a feeling that behind-the-scenes video was shot, and then some editing was done to the finished product. The end of the video has Q-Tip alone while a siren plays, then cuts to the protest. I can imagine Q-Tip personally telling Larese that having them show up in the same room as him would defeat the point of the song. It would show the people not rising up for themselves. It would show people rallying to a new king, so to speak. In other words, to borrow from Ozzy Osbourne, since the song does sample Black Sabbath:

“You gotta believe in someone
Asking me who is right
Asking me who to follow
Don’t ask me
I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know”
–I Don’t Know by Ozzy Osbourne

I can see them cutting Q-Tip actually seeing them arrive, and instead abruptly cut to the protest. That’s how I read it.

They sample the Black Sabbath song Behind The Wall Of Sleep, which is appropriate since they also did War Pigs and The Mob Rules.

I’ve included War Pigs (live & studio) and The Mob Rules by Black Sabbath below since they are relevant to this song. I’m guessing that the siren at the end is from, or at least a reference to the one from War Pigs, which began the song, rather than ended it.

James Larese directed the video and Cisco Newman produced it. Thanks to BWW Music World we have this quote from Larese:

“I was hugely influenced by Tribe growing up and never imagined I’d be here directing their video. They are just as relevant today as they were 20 years ago. ‘We the People’ touched me on a visceral level. One of the reasons I co-founded Triggr & Bloom, perhaps the main reason, was to position my art to a higher purpose. Working with them was an incredible affirmation for me.”
–James Larese

I can find that Newman has worked on 15-20 music videos in the past few years. He was even nominated for a Grammy for “Weird Al” Yankovic’s music video for Perform This Way.

Here is when A Tribe Called Quest performed We The People…. on SNL:

Finally, here is the behind-the-scenes video that was put out on the video:

Enjoy!

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