Exactly one month ago, rapper Kodak Black released a thought-provoking music video to accompany his song “Tunnel Vision.” When I first heard the song, I thought nothing of it– perhaps it was “just another one of those weird “trap” songs that seem to have some type of clout in popular culture today.” I thought that it would be like just like the rest of his songs: a great beat, a great vibe, but still lacking in substance.
Well, although most of the lyrics do suggest just that, I have to say I was completely shocked by Kodak’s efforts to produce such a video that was so heavy in imagery and symbolism. The video for “Tunnel Vision” was Kodak’s method of addressing the lingering impacts of racism in America and, more specifically, the Ku Klux Klan.
So for this blog post, I am going to try something a little new…
Let’s forget about the lyrics for a brief moment.
Within the first five seconds of the video, Kodak shows us two men fighting in a field: one of them black and one of them white. Of course, I had no idea what to expect, I thought nothing of it. Immediately after, however, I realize that the white man who is tumbling around in what could be a wrestling match, to say the least, is wearing a vest that has the Confederate Flag on its rear. Instant Replay.
“Wait, hold on a sec,” I said to myself, “did i click the right video?” A few seconds after checking that the username had a “verified check” next to it and realizing that this was indeed the “right video,” I started it from the beginning again– this time focusing my attention on every detail. I could not believe that within the first ten seconds I could be so intrigued and… well… shocked.
And then BOOM! Again, another shocker: in the next five seconds (after the first beat/instrumental drops) Kodak and his friend (?) are standing in front of two Holy Crosses on fire. “What is going on?!”
As I got further into the video, I found that the fight that occurred in the beginning was actually an event that happened last. Basically, Kodak was showing the events leading up to this fight. With that being said, viewers learn that the white man involved was not only sporting a Confederate Flag ever so proudly, but he was also wearing a red baseball cap that stated “Make America Hate Again.” Furthermore, before Kodak even starts rapping, viewers can see that the burning crosses he was standing in front of also had Ku Klux Klan members being lynched from them. “Woah.”
At this point, I stopped the video giving myself a bit of time to recoup. After all, I was only about 1 minute in to the 4 minute and 31 second video. I immediately began to replay the lyrics in my head:
Lil Kodak they don’t wanna see you winning,
they wanna see you in the penitentiary.
That was the only verse that I could logically relate to the content of the video as I began to think about mass incarceration and the 13th amendment.
“What did I miss? I thought this was just a regular song?” And after completely watching the full video, I found that it was more than that.
Artists these days are finding more and more ways to communicate with their fans (and their not-so fans.) Although Kodak Black is not someone who I initially would trust to run some type of social justice or reform project, I definitely applaud his efforts in contributing to the conversation– Bravo!