James Blake is a white crooner from London; Chance the Rapper is a black rapper from Chicago’s South Side. For the video for “Life Round Here” — the pair’s first, seamless collaboration — famed artist Nabil builds off these surface-level contradictions to create a version of rural England riddled with juxtapositions.
Never mind that Blake has worked with rappers before (i.e., with the RZA on “Take a Fall For Me”), or that Chance has spit over the same strand of post-dubstep moodiness (i.e, “Paranoia” with Noasj Thing for his excellent mixtape Acid Rap): The clip for “Life Round Here” features the duo’s slow tour past an interracial couple, a young black man holding the arm of an old white woman, and what is described in the video’s description as Somalian pirates. In a statement about the video, Nabil confirms the message is as vague as the treatment makes it seem: “I love juxtapositions, so I thought I’d bring an old school lowrider to the countryside in England, and bring the two together in a way that makes people question things.”
What isn’t in question (that’s called a transition) is that Chance still sounds fantastic over the song, skipping all over Blake’s nod to boom-bap and then nonchalantly harmonizing with him on the chorus. And as INNANETAPE, the new full-length from close confidant Vic Mensa shows, there’s much more where this comes from.