[Visual Analysis]Pac Div: Whiplash

Pac Div exudes that type of nostalgic cool that never looses it’s freshness. They evoke comparisons to groupls like De La and Tribe, yet remain completely and comfortably within their proper decade. As a connoseuir of the art of storytelling , the video for their recent release Whiplash strikes my interests as I find it to be a perfect visual definiton of the current quarter life crisis afflicted their peers. As fellow new school breakout Drake lamented on his successful single, Successful, that’s pretty much all he wants to be. Success itself, as determined by the concept of the ‘American Dream’, is almost always attached to the quality and breadth of our material possessions and we live in an increasingly materialistic society where consumerism and debt form an uncomfortable relationship within young urban America.

It was  near the end of the 90’s when record companies acting as image consultants aesthetically gentrified the still developing genre. The level of gratuitous lyrical and visual decadence rose to new heights as the era of bling descended upon us. Women, clothes, money, and cars had always been central themes in hip hop culture, yet compared to previous incarnations the face of hip hop was completely altered. For those of us who came of age with MTV and BET bred hip hop culture, these images have no doubt affected our perception of what “making it” truly means. Everybody has dreams, so as Langston Hughes poised in his famous work “What happens to a dream deferred?”  Through thier eyes we are given a glimpe of the flip-side to the grind, the many days spent in limbo waiting for the big payoff which may or may not come.  This clip Directed by Carey Williams makes no use of fluff or filler and his minimalist approach in composition mirrors a time when realness was a hip hop video standard. Strong contrast between light and shadow, and the specific use of color and black and white sequences mark the shift of tone as we are given a visual parallel of success and failure. Amidst broken down cars, bicycles and travelers on foot, a single Benz occupied by the trio becomes profoundly symbolic as it  glides over asphault like Apollo in his charriot.  Sunlight gleaming off the spotless paint and chrome wheels as their wistful faces are reflected in the hood, the car becomes a manifestation of the hard earned sucess the group has achieved and also an extension of their essence in relation  to the industry. The imagery suggests that Pac Div is letting us know they are the E-class of hip hop; verbally elegant, stylishly classic, well equipped, and top performers.  The languid flow of William’s shots perfectly mirror the hypnotic melody of the track with the segue into Young Black Male providing a poignant finale. The flagrant lights of the squad car bursting through the darkness command the screen. Most of us are well acquainted with the pulse quickining sight of red and blue lights flashing us down in the rear view mirror. Police brutality and racial profiling are disturbing factors in the success stories of urban youth, especially young black men in America. The discomfort and annoyance on BeYoung’s face set aglow by a department issued flashlight is an arresting image, no pun intended. 


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