J.Cole Power Trip
Music Video Analysis
Harland Greenhill Fletcher
Types of videos
Performance based music videos are when the artist is
performing for the camera, usually bands would use footage
of them playing concerts as it would give the audience a
taste of one of their shows.
A Narrative base video is another approach for the artist to
take in which the video is not necessarily just the artist
singing to the camera it relates to the words of the song and
tells a story. The video I am analysing J. Cole Power Trip is
definitely a narrative based video it is solely based on the
Finally we have a concept based music video this involves a
random or purposeful concept which is drawn upon within
the video. They don t tend to have a structured storyline
instead they tend to present an overall concept.
Power trip is a song made by the American Hip hop
artist J.Cole (Jermaine Cole). J.Cole himself produces
the song although it features American singer
songwriter Miguel. This particular song is made under
entertainment company founded by Jay-Z. J.cole was
the first artist signed by Jay-Z under Roc Nation with
the album world: The sideline
The video itself is a continuation of a
The reason he did this sequel could be to keep the interest of his
old fans while also broadening his audience with new material. J.
Cole uses a narrative that is not too difficult to follow yet it could
be said that there is complexity behind it typical of Goodwin's
theory. The simplicity of the song and its narrative is obvious.
From the repetition of the chorus the audience is able to draw
- a guy love struck over a girl. Having
these words repeated throughout the song structures the story-line
we are constantly reminded of his anxiety over the girl.
Throughout the video a range of shots are used in different situations,
close ups, extreme close ups, two shots, mid shots, shot reverse shots,
point of view shots and a few scenic pans. As an audience we see a
number of close ups on J. Cole (meat shots) these act as a marketing
technique whilst also submerging him into his key role in the story. The
rest of the camera work largely centres
a backseat viewing of the emerging journey through the story using a
number of over the shoulder shots. While there are limited uses of
for J. Cole only and express his deeper feelings of emotion.
Camera work ext.
Many interesting camera angles are used in the video for example
at a lower angle to everyone else. He is often shown through a
crowd of people or objects, appearing in the background he seems
distant from everyone in the club. Within the initial club
sequence we see girls body parts from noticeably high and low
angles. This objectifies them providing a typical example of the
Laura theory of The Male Gaze.
Initially we see a moving (panning) shot of a house as if driving
past slowly from the front seat of a car. This moving shot gives the
impression the house is being watched.
In the clip we see a few arcing shots used for example
when we are introduced to Miguel the camera arcs
around the door in a way that we are watching this
individual. Continuing from this shot a tracking shot is
used to follow his movements, there is no privacy for
him it appears he is being followed at all times.
Throughout the video we see the clip is cut to the beat of the
music seen in Goodwin's theory. A number of the straight cuts
are in time with the bass in the song. Whenever the chorus of
the song is played we see the video cut to J. Cole in the club
looking lost and out of place.
Cutting rate of the video changes at different stages for
example we see in the first 30seconds far less cuts as apposed to
the last 30 the use of fast cutting relates to action in the crime
they have committed. The slow cut rate is there when nothing
is known to of happened we think they are just driving at first.
As J. Cole and his friend are driving we see that J. Cole
imagines or sees this girl in the rear view mirror
would have been added in after the filming so is an
example of an post production effect.
All through the clip cross-cutting is used to jump
between the action of one location to another.
Especially towards the end when jumping from the
club to the burying of Miguel we see many of these
Mise en scene
We see a clear divide between J. Cole (previous or want to be
boyfriend) and Miguel (present boyfriend). Miguel is shown
wearing a suit implying he is of a skilled profession doctor or
accountant yet J. Cole is seen in a hat and hoodie he is
represented as in formal and the audience presume he is lower
There are 4 main locations in the video the house, the club , the
car and the forest in connection with the journey. Each of these
locations adopt a mood with them. First of all the club is well light
there is drinks and girls it looks as though J. Coles friend is trying
to cheer him up here. Additionally the house is set almost in black
and white with almost no colour
quite calm and relaxed yet there is a down mood at the same time.
Finally the last two settings are the forest and the journey both of
which are not lighted apart from natural light with this being said
the clip. The lighting of all the settings amplifies the general mood
that is represented.
Mise en scene ext.
Overall the video has a dystopian feel about it as
though he is headed to a dead end. It appears there is a
bleak future ahead of them nothing good can come of
the actions they have taken and J. Cole shows that he is
aware of this. Towards the end of the clip whilst they
bury Miguel the sun sets in the background and the
audience see how the night club is related to the story
it looks as though this all happened in one day.
This song is a rap/hip hop song and we see common and
uncommon features and conventions of this genre. For
example it is unusual to see a rapper chasing after one single
girl, girls are usually represented as disposable to them yet J.
Cole idolizes this woman and only wants her so the video
challenges typical rap conventions.
At times in the lyrics he refers to asking for help which is
also unusual because usually a rapper would prefer to do
something alone and be too proud to ask for help this
challenges the norm of a hip hop video.
Alternatively we see him in a strip club with girls being
strip club is a typical location for a rap video with girls
dancing around the artist.
When it comes to the narrative this story is very interesting
the clip contains 3 different sideline stories. First of all we
mean all the times we see J. Cole alone in the club just
thinking about things and seeming distant. This first
sideline story is represented as the most important
throughout because no matter what else is happening we are
reminded of this story. Additionally the second side story we
are introduced to is the girls relationship with her boyfriend.
Her relationship with the boyfriend (Miguel) is not shown
for long in the video and it appears as though we should not
focus on this too much. From the audiences point of view it
feels like we should forget this side story and it seems as
though J. Cole would like to.
Third and finally we see the story of J. Coles everyday
life for example hanging out with his friends in a club
with girls, money and drinks. The two of them are
pulled over by the cops during the car journey, typically
rap and hip hop artists talk about the rivalry between
them and police. There is a sense of irony that rappers
would usually talk about being wrongly accused of
crimes yet we later find out the two of them have in
fact committed murder.
The twist to the narrative comes at the end when all
three of these sideline stories are drawn together the
audience is shown that J. Cole and his friend have
in a forest. A sense of tension builds in the story when
we see this because sirens are heard and the editing
becomes faster. The video in my opinion is both open
structured and closed in ways. Firstly we know what has
been done and the story is pulled together we make
sense of it all, yet we are still left wondering if he will
get caught for his crime.
According to Andrew Goodwin's theory we see that this
video is an amplification of the words because the lyrics
show us he is heart broken or sad about a girl yet the video
shows us that he is capable of killing someone to get her.
Additionally the video is simply illustrated throughout with
late at night.
Further more Roland Barthes theory of narrative codes is
shown within. The main code linked to this video would be
the enigma code because we are left wondering where the
find out what has happened.
Moreover Tzvetan Todorovs theory of equilibrium is shown
as the story progresses. Initially we see J. Cole in the club
normal life (equilibrium). As we continue the audience is
introduced to the dilemma or disruption that the girl he
wants is with another man. Moving on from this we see the
journey or him seeking a way to sort the problem. When we
are shown that he has killed her boyfriend this is the climax
and the resolution (the problem is solved). Although this is
extreme he returns to the club to carry on with his life yet
his life will never be the same a new equilibrium is found.
oppositions a number of oppositions are represented. First
of them is Love Hate this is seen within J. Cole he loves
this woman yet he hates her boyfriend enough to kill him.
Civilized savage is seen with Miguel (her boyfriend) suited
up ready to work and be civilized yet J. Cole has the time to
kill him and be the savage. Finally it could be seen that
Miguel is a strong character he is oblivious to the fact this
man is after his girlfriend and he continues with life. J. Cole
is weak in two ways he is influenced by love so much he
commits murder and he is left powerless by Miguel so
resorts to killing him.
There is hardly any performance aspect to this video
apart from the occasional lip synch. The videos sole
The one time we see Miguel (alive) he is seen singing in
the mirror yet this is the only performance aspect
really. Additionally we see J. Cole sing once when he is
outside this girls house it could be said that they have
the girl in common and she is worth singing about.
Balance of narrative and
The balance is strongly towards the narrative side we
see hardly any performance. The whole video is based
around a story which is entirely evolved around the
lyrics of the song. This had to be intentional, so there
could be a few reasons this was done first of all J. Cole
wanted you to focus on the story, he wanted it to be
told with no interruptions of performance. Further
more the reason this was done could be because he
wanted a closed narrative you are not meant to think
about it to much just go along with his representation.
The video is effective and fulfills its purpose. In this
clip there is not any point where the lyrics are not
illustrated and amplified by the visuals. Everything we
see is linked to the lyrics and the story that is being
told. Lighting in this video is key to its success the
lights in each section and setting of the video amplify
the mood. Additionally the video does a good job of
selling J. Cole to the audience we see him all the time
and we empathise with him. He allows the audience to
relate to his story although not many people would
commit the crime he does in this video they still relate
to his emotions.
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