No Trivia

No Country For Old Rappers


Director Morocco Vaughn shoots the beginning of “Bustin’ At Em,” and all the No Country For Old Men-referencing parts in a gritty, kinda beautiful style that’s perhaps perfected by The Motion Family but is just generally really popular right now. Very easily, Vaughn could’ve made a hand-held, art-movie-street-doc that’s smart, gritty, and tasteful. But that’s easy. Instead, Vaughn moved on and mixes it up with some very conventional “dudes in a warehouse” performance footage and some absolutely ridiculous CGI-soaked shots of Waka swatting bullets fired by video girls.

The idea that there’s a “good” or at least acceptable video that’s eschewed for something far more bizarre is really appealing. Rather than have one “smart” video, or two okay videos, Vaughn mixes styles and takes it all to the next level. He one-ups the now pretty rote, nicely-shot, hood video by merging it with a really clever and out-of-the-box crime movie reference. The warehouse performance footage is a throwback to a kind of spare, performance video that doesn’t really exist anymore. And he pumps the computer-assisted, ridiculous event video full of steroids. The CGI bullets have eyeballs on the end of them. Flocka is knocking the bullets down like King Kong swatting planes. His Fozzy Bear chain comes alive and swats some bullets too. This is Pen N Pixel in music video form.

When “Bustin’ At Em” is stupid, it’s really stupid, and when it’s smart, it’s really smart too. Vaughn and Flocka don’t miss the point of the crime movie they’re referencing, as is often the case when rappers reference Scarface or Goodfellas–they just reconfigure it a bit. “Bustin’ At Em” begins with wizened hood commentary that conflates the narration from No Country For Old Men with (as monique_r suggested), the somber, sincerity you get in the dramatic parts of a Tyler Perry movie. That pre-song monologue—nearly word-for-word from the Coens’ movie—cleverly doubles as a commentary on rap’s perceived, decaying values and lowered expectations, embodied by Waka Flocka Flame. So, it’s appropriate that Flocka portrays No Country’s cold-hearted, next-level killer Anton Chigurh.

Like Chigurh, who blew up a pharmacy to get pain medication, who didn’t use a gun but some evily-efficient, pressurized nail-gun-like thing to commit murder, Flocka wanders the rap scene not only breaking the rules, but obliterating the sense that there were rules in the first place. Dude doesn’t really rap at all, he shouts, grunts, and yells, and sometimes those shouts come out as couplets. But it works. This is the most knowing, character-identification in a video since Kanye West portrayed himself as the moody, bitter Tetsuo from Akira in the “Stronger” video.

Written by Brandon

October 13th, 2010 at 7:29 am

9 Responses to 'No Country For Old Rappers'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'No Country For Old Rappers'.

  1. Wow, “This is Pen N Pixel in music video form.” When I was watching the music video, I was wondering what No Limit cover is this comparable to, and at this point I would say that the bullet scenes reminds me of B.G.’s “Chopper City” cover. Taking something that would seem threatening and unsettling and taking it to a level too far toward ridiculousness.


    14 Oct 10 at 4:25 am

  2. Maybe I should’ve watched the video before reading your write-up, as after reading that I couldn’t help but be disappointed. I mean, it’s basically 80% boring warehouse footage, 10% CGI bullets that aren’t as awesome and Pen and Pixely as you make them out to be, and then this NCFOM stuff, shot in a “gritty, kinda beautiful” bleached style that I got really tired of years ago. As for Waka and Chigurh, I don’t know if the equation is really knowing (admittedly, the monologue does bear your reading out) in a defiant, “yes, I am the scourge of lyricism or just plain technically okay rapping” way, or if Chigurh is just the new cool badass movie villain to identify with. On a more literal level, I think it’s a weird character-identification, as Waka just might be the least menacing hardcore gangsta rapper of all time. (This isn’t a bad thing, just saying.) You see this at the end when he walks up to the dude in the car with this sort of quizzical, almost friendly look on his face. Even when he’s playing a serial killer he can’t pull off even a ghost of a mean mug. I think I enjoyed Gucci’s ‘Remember When’ video more. He’s so comically expressionless that the only way they can get him to appear to show emotion is to shoot him in silhouette. I remember noz once saying that his flat affect in the ‘Photoshoot’ video was intended to convey how effortless his rapping was, but apparently he’s always this sphinxesque.


    16 Oct 10 at 5:33 am

  3. tray-
    I think your percentage breakdowns are a little off. There’s a lot more ridiculous CGI bullets footage than you’re suggesting and the whole video is framed around ‘No Country’. Start and finish, and the fairly extended cop murder scene.

    I’d also say that you’re really not giving the director or Flocka credit for the ‘No Country’ stuff as it’s not exactly the most expected or typical crime movie to reference.

    I think my adjectives kinda gave it away and I all but come out and say it when I put smart in quotation marks, but I’m completely sick of the nice-looking, gritty street video. We got it directors. You have nice cameras. Everybody does. What’s so cool about this Flocka video is that it uses that grammar really effectively but is also just like “nah, here’s some other more awesome shit”.


    16 Oct 10 at 5:51 am

  4. i got the impression that the bullets weren’t so much supposed to have eyeballs as they were supposed to be cartoonish versions of Hydra-Shok bullets: JHP rounds that “feature a unique, patented center-post design and notched jacket.”

    unrelated note: Chigurh did in fact repeatedly use guns to kill people throughout the film (and book)


    16 Oct 10 at 8:02 am

  5. janklow-
    Freeze-framing it, it definitely isn’t eyeballs, it may not even be the Hydra-Shok as you suggested, it’s just a poor CG rendering of the like wear on the tip of like, any hollow point.

    Of course Chigurh uses guns in the movie and book. Even in the Flocka video here he uses handcuffs, the point is, his weapon of choice, when he has a choice (otherwise he’ll use anything he needs to) is that pressurized gun…..


    16 Oct 10 at 2:25 pm

  6. i’m mainly presuming it’s the Hydra-Shok look because it’s a pretty commonly referenced brand name, as far as that kind of bullet goes, and the center-post thing is pretty unique when it comes to JHP rounds

    also, i suppose my point is that Chigurh as a character chooses things other than his bolt gun voluntarily, which makes it seem less like an intentional breaking of boundaries and more of a “i simply like this ominous character.” it’s still an interesting choice for video content either way, though


    17 Oct 10 at 6:25 am

  7. Awesome post ! Cheers for, writing on my blog page mate! I shall message you some time. I didnt realise that!

    quality online loan

    10 Jun 12 at 1:15 pm

  8. koka ammiano cargill kempe durmus’ sagansky


    15 Feb 14 at 5:50 am

  9. Cool! That’s a clever way of lonkiog at it!


    4 May 14 at 7:28 pm

Leave a Reply