Rick Ross' new video "Hold Me Back (Nigeria)," seems an attempt by Rick Ross to pull in his Nigerian brothers by staging a music video on Nigerian shores. The music video opens with a clip of a television announcer letting the world know that after two years of endless civilian slaughter and starvation, the Biafran War had ended. The clip that followed featured a military leader saying that the war was a bitter battle that ended in a victory of common sense.
Then out of nowhere, without any clear sense of connection, Rick Ross enters the visual conversation smoking a cigarette in the foreground, while poverty flashes past his expensive American car. The track at first seems like it may address Nigeria’s failure at healing the still deep anger between the Igbo tribe and the rest of the country. There was hope with those first angry lines that this was a call to arms, a signal to all that the in-fighting and the division needed to stop. I was waiting for a line that addressed the chasm that separated African-Americans and their motherland cousins were torn apart, and maybe how the systems that surround us, the oppressive force of a downward global economy, divisive national agendas, a capitalist winner-take-all mentality, in the end wouldn’t ‘hold us down’.
Instead what Rick Ross does in six minutes and seventeen seconds is showcase a Nigeria of angry tribal bushmen carrying guns. We see children jumping, half naked in the dirty river water, to tear dollar bills from strange hands. We see women trading in markets, dwarfed by shacks made of thin metal. As the scene progresses we see more angry Nigerians stomping, and dancing on mounds of debris and trash.
What we see in Rick Ross’s "Hold Me Back (Nigeria)" doesn’t forward the conversation he starts in the beginning of the video, and if he does, he does a very good job at hiding his message. I don’t get a sense of who the ‘me’ is, or who would be holding ‘him’ back. If you take the time to watch the American version there is a clear connection between the song and the imagery. While woman are objectified as sex object, black men portrayed as poor drug dealing thugs and families live in squalor, I can make a connection between the government’s inability to bring real assistance to people of color in places like Louisiana, Florida and Texas that he mentions in the video and his song lyrics.
There is no deeper commentary in the Nigerian version. Where people were used as sensational props for the US version, Nigeria was simply used as a background, lifted out of the history books with a fancy black and white edit job.
I am all for collaborations, or international cameos, in fact I didn’t mind P-Square reaching across the ocean to Rick Ross on their song Beautiful Oninye, but here, intensions aside, the execution was off. The entire production left me wondering, ‘what was he thinking?’
Watch the video and weigh in your thoughts!