Product placement and music videos go hand in hand. What, after all, is a clip but ad placement for an artist's song? Still, the glaring one in Nicki Minaj's new "Pills N Potions" clips blurs the line in impressive fashion.
With a few well-placed shots of a Beats-brand portable speaker amid the luxuriously filmed images of Minaj and her onscreen love interest, rapper the Game, the spot mixes marketing, message and meaning like a particularly vivid Saturday night drug cocktail.
Taken from her forthcoming album "The Pink Print," "Pills and Potions" is a slow burn ballad featuring Minaj posing and looking beautiful as she sings and raps about anger, pills, love and frustration. It's a smooth, pretty song that features Minaj further bridging the gap between her impressive skills as a rapper and evolving work as a singer.
And then, at the 1:20 mark it first arrives, sent down from the heavens as if from Jimmy Iovine's all-giving hand: a Beats Pill XL portable speaker falling alongside a few purple tablets. The capsule-shaped speaker drifts down without mention as Minaj sings the chorus: "Pills and potions, we're overdosing / I'm angry but I still love you."
A visually rich video/photo shoot whose every camera movement luxuriates over Minaj and a shirtless Game, the clip shows Minaj grooving and grinding, moving sensually with bed-headed seductiveness, parting her lips to reveal silver grills on her teeth, snarling like a panther.
Shots of the Game's tattooed arms enveloping her, of her holding his head in her arm like it's a football, of CGI-stunning mercury tears dropping from her eyes, of morphing, tripped-out blob-cars, of a bunny rabbit tapping its paws in rhythm (.gif alert!), of Minaj wearing virgin-white Playboy bunny ears.
"I sped off in a Benzy, I see the envy when I'm causing a frenzy," she raps after the first Beats Pill drops. "So I pop pills for them, cop cribs in the Hills on 'em."
It gets tricky, though, when you start parsing the placement. The Beats Pill falls among purple pills in a song about taking recreational drugs to celebrate success, connecting the newly purchased Apple brand with dropping a dose of something or other. In hip-hop, said purple pills pop up in "Purple Pills," a song by Eminem-connected group D12. "Pop two pills, on stilts I walk / Snorted two lines that were filled with chalk / Thought it was Incredible I killed the Hulk."
Writes one commenter on Rap Genius about the meaning of said purple pills: "It doesn’t really matter, when you see some colored pills, just take some and see what happens."
Or maybe they're Nexium? Doesn't really matter. Branding of this kind is less about the message than it is the messenger.
Watch the video.
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