Jay-Z’s hypnotic music video for the song On to the Next One was released as “the first music video of the decade” on the morning of 01/01/10. Of course, Vigilant Citizen – who you’ll remember for his incisive analysis of Lady Gaga’s true Masonic origins – was immediately on the case. Jay-Z has been on the Citizen shitlist ever since the rapper wore a “Do What Thou Wilt” shirt last August, so with the release of this video came righteous vindication and the kind of breathless analysis that causes sharp spikes in the purchasing of duct tape and canned beans amongst the site’s core readership. God-fearing truthseekers weren’t the only ones dissecting the macabre clip. In an article on Jay-Z’s ties to the art world, Slate commented on the clip’s symbols of wealth and status:
Jay-Z and the director Sam Brown jumble bluntly evocative status symbols—a bulging stack of hundreds, Armand de Brignac champagne—with more mysterious symbolism—a bell jar containing taxidermy birds, a swirling ink blot, those whipping cords (which, it bears mentioning, are lifted from the 2002 video for Interpol’s “Obstacle 1″). Some of the most memorable shots in the video are of black paint pouring down a diamond-covered skull. The skull is a replica of “For the Love of God,” a Damien Hirst sculpture that the British artist fabricated for about $30 million in 2007 and sold for a purported $100 million (to a group of investors that includes the Ukrainian billionaire Viktor Pinchuk and, oddly, Hirst himself). Like the Jaguar XJ, Hirst’s skull telegraphs extreme wealth, but that’s not all: Screaming its value while begging to be mulled over, it’s a status symbol and a puzzle in one.’
But Slate’s art-fag analysis is just part of the big cover-up, because this video’s occult powers are clearly beyond anything that even Vigilant Citizen could conceive of, as explained by Derek Jones from the Light of the Lamb Church (Mr. Jones’ breakdown is, perhaps, the true masterpiece here).
Satanic mind control issues aside, the video itself is well-played. Watching this clip is like stumbling across yet another mind-blowingly amazing, anonymous Tumblr blog where nothing is contextualized, nothing is credited, and nothing stays on top for long (hello, NOWITSDARK). Incredible images flash past your eyes as you continue to scroll down… sometimes you’ll recognize a film still or some fashion editorial from 10 months ago, but most times you have no idea, though you feverishly wish you did. You look at the image properties for a clue, and of course it’s only named something like “tumblr_kwqnmlcOoe1qa2t6ho1_500.jpg”. You will probably never know. This video captures the awed anxiety of seeing too many disembodied things in rapid succession.