Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No Fairy Tale: Lil' Scrappy "Livin' in the Projects"

Posthumous musical appearances by 2Pac are nothing new, but Lil' Scrappy tries to once more channel the inspirational spirit of the dead rapper with his latest video...

Lil' Scrappy feat. 2Pac "Livin' in the Projects"

dir. by ?

The 2Pac sample is about more than having a fly hook, for Lil' Scrappy the iconic rapper represented hope in a world of poverty and fear. Though he claims his mind was focused solely on making money as a youth (by any means necessary), portraits on the wall reveal other sources of motivation. Lil' Scrappy looks to paint himself in that same vein, going back to the ghettos as proof of the possibility of success in an environment normally bereft of positive change.

Yet in order to make his story of rag-to-riches effective, he must first establish the authenticity of his experience. The director's attention to detail is what creates a believable picture of modern American life in the projects. From eviction notices on the door to rotting animals on the street, liquor bottles lining shelves and drug stashes in the ceiling, Lil' Scrappy doesn't glamorize the 'hood with beautiful women or shiny cars - he shows it for what it is. Just as his lyrics relay the bleak circumstances which led him to crime, the video shows us the environmental depravity which did the same.

Lil' Scrappy doesn't just emphasize the difficult or painful aspects of this life though, he reminds us that these folks still find reasons to smile. There are shots of girls laughing on the corner, friends exchanging pleasant greetings and young men relaxing in the afternoon. Selling drugs or stealing money is something you do to survive in this world - but it doesn't make you inhuman or incapable of joy. Rather the good times you had become all the more powerful in your memory, when contrasted with so many dark moments of fear.

The rapper writes so that his daughter will never face those "gates to hate" which lurked outside his childhood home, but he also rhymes to express the value of his experience - the strength he gleamed from that desperation. Proud of his defiant accomplishment, but mindful of the streets which created the tough image upon which he now sells millions of records, Lil' Scrappy speaks to inspire those still braving the coldest of Decembers. A shot of a television set is followed by a mirror hanging on the wall - he knows the influence his music can have. Lil' Scrappy's no 2Pac, but he has made a compelling and truthful video.

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