Even before my hiatus, I was supposed to post this around Biggie’s 13th Death Anniversary (March 9). But hell, I don’t want this to stay in the on-deck circle of my blog for another year. So in his belated honor, I’d like to highlight one of my favorite videos that doesn’t normally get a lot of play.
Dir. Spike Jonze – Bad Boy Records/ Artista Records – 1997 – USA
Biggie was assassinated 15 days prior to the release of his second album, Life After Death. Following “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems”, “Sky’s the Limit” was the third single released off the album. An unlikely director was chosen for the music video: Spike Jonze. Unlikely because Jonze was almost the opposite of Hype Williams, the director of Biggie’s previous videos. Jonze had directed videos for mostly alternative artists, with his Hiphop credentials being the Pharcyde and the Beastie Boys (who unfortunately, many don’t recognize as Hiphop pioneers). They aren’t the most flashy artists, which is the perfect adjective to describe Hype Williams’ videos.
Since Jonze couldn’t use the primary artist for the video, he used a child actor to act as Biggie. Running with this theme, he replaced most of the adult figures with child doppelgangers. I don’t think this was just because he had to find an alternative to Biggie, but because the song itself. Thinking that “the sky is the limit” is something kids are told all the time. As we grow up, our optimism tends to die off and we get old, angry, and “realistic”. This song, written by a very adult Biggie, reminds us to keep having dreams, no matter how old we get.
Jonze keeps many of the known Hiphop video stereotypes: flashy cars, big houses, fish-eye lens, etc. But he does it in a more ironic way. Especially since its a child Biggie driving the car. This also proves Jonze has the ability to direct a Hype Williams-like video if he wanted to. I’m glad he doesn’t.
I think it’s unfortunate that this song and video isn’t out there as much. Maybe it’s the positive message? Or because of Spike Jonze? Either way, I think it’s two things Hiphop needs more of. Especially nowadays.
Did you know?: Sofia Coppola was credited with coming up with the concept for the video. Jonze and Coppola were married for four years.