Jay-Z & Kanye West’s ‘Otis’: Five Indelible Images

By Jonathan Goldner

You can’t watch Jay-Z & Kanye West’s “Otis” video without noticing two things. First, that it is beautifully shot by director Spike Jonze. Second, Jay and ‘Ye really look like they’re having fun!

For two of hip-hop’s heaviest hitters, this is genuinely new and different. There’s no tough guy mean-mugging in “Otis.” It’s good times in the sunshine doing doughnuts in a tricked-out Maybach full of pretty women. And what’s not to like about that?

After watching and enjoying the video several times, we were stuck by these five key moments that left indelible images on our minds.

1) The very first shot, showing only Kanye & Jay’s tools of destruction. It’s a dark, foreboding image that suggests the deconstruction of one of hip-hop’s traditional symbols of swag, the Maybach.

2) It turns out that the ride isn’t being torn apart, it’s just being remixed. Behold the hip-hop Batmobile, with it’s doors, hood and grill all repositioned where the trunk used to be and a fire-breathing tailpipe. Biff! Bam! It’s the pimpmobile!

3) Jay and Kanye as joyriding teenagers. Nowhere in the video is the carefree, summertime spirit more apparent than seeing the two erstwhile tough guys taking their remixed ride for a spin. You can’t watch this scene without smiling and laughing at least a little bit. Their joy is contagious.

4) Kanye throws his diamond, just like the good old Roc-A-Fella days. The formerly ever-present Roc-A-Fella diamond hasn’t been seen much since Mr. Carter’s falling out with Damon Dash. Seeing Kanye throw it up is a wonderful throwback to back in the day.

5) Jay-Z throwing sparks from a special effect glove while hanging out the doorless passenger side isn’t something anybody expected to see in the “Otis” video. It’s charming and disarming. Aside from Aziz Ansari’s surprise cameo, it’s certainly the most surprising.