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Video Breakdown: The Pharcyde’s Classic Video “The Drop”

Posted by Jose Ho-Guanipa on 11/25/09 | Filed under Videos, Video Breakdown, Jose Ho-Guanipa
The Pharcyde were one of the most unique hip-hop acts to come out during the 90s, eschewing the then popular trends of gangster rap and the flashy excesses of bling for a more underground sound and approach. While the group disbanded towards the end of the 90s, their most lasting legacy will most likely be their classic video for “The Drop” helmed by Spike Jonze, director of “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Being John Malkovitch” among many other projects. It is recognized among the music video community and in general pop culture as well as one of the most innovative yet simple music videos of the 90s. In the video the four members hop through the streets of Los Angeles seemingly defying gravity and the laws of physics while performing the lyrics to the song.

If we take a look at Jonze’s simple yet elegant one page treatment of the video we can really get a chance to appreciate the artistry and creativity involved in conjuring up and executing the production of this video and the simplicity of it all as well. The most amazing thing about the video, however, is the simplicity of the treatment and the low cost of making the video.

The Pharcyde, Spike Jonze, Drop

Made before the advent and widespread use of computer graphics and visual effects in music videos “The Drop” is a testament that creativity trumps money and high-gloss production any day of the week. It is not a Michael Bay production with million dollar explosions and complicated computer graphics. While the video was relatively simple and cheap to make, it was not easy to execute. Jonze cleverly got the group to perform the song backwards and even went as far as hiring a linguist to coach them through properly reciting the gibberish that was the backwards dub of the song. He then inserted several instances of the group defying gravity and other objects doing downright strange things and incorporated the effect into a simple performance video. The footage was then played backwards giving off the effect that The Pharcyde is rapping

The resourcefulness of Jones, while he is not a director whose name is synonymous with hip-hop like a Hype Williams, in itself embodies the spirit of hip-hop. With merely rudimentary recording equipment and a microphone in someone’s garage, some of the world’s greatest hip-hop records have been produced, gone on to sell millions and change the face of popular culture today. This video will probably go down in history as one of the best if not the best and most creative music video of its era, irregardless of musical genre. And Jonze can also be credited as being a pioneer and contributor to the visual medium of hip-hop, even if he is a little skinny white guy from Maryland who likes to skateboard.

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