The overreaching ambition of the video concept for Ab-Soul’s “ILLuminate” reflects the overreaching ambition of the boasts in the song, off of the Los Angeles rapper’s 2012 Control System mixtape. In each case, though, the caliber of the rapping, boosted by a guest verse from fellow Black Hippy crew member Kendrick Lamar, saves Ab-Soul’s grasping from potential ridiculousness.
Directed by past Black Hippy associates Fredo Tovar and Scott Fleishman, the video (via Nah Right) takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. Judging by a newspaper clipping glimpsed early on, the failed Stop Online Piracy Act — which most indie music labels originally supported, by the way, because it wasn’t as evil as technology companies wanted us to think — has somehow led to a civilization-destroying “leftist” backlash. Luckily, this is an occasion for listening to records.
It’s unclear exactly what’s happening as our apocalypse survivors leave the darkness and head for the woods, but eventually Ab-Soul shifts from a holographic presence to an actual one, like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s ghost turning back into Obi-Wan Kenobi again. A similar thing happens in the slow-gliding song, too, as Ab-Soul’s lofty self-comparisons to past rap greats eventually give way to just great rapping. “I can hold this coast together,” Lamar concludes, as the two MCs’ verses hold the whole elaborate song and video together. Claims grandiose enough can sometimes make themselves come true.