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The Roots Brew American Terror and Heartbreak in ‘Never’ Video

The Roots Watch Video for 'Never'

The Roots have released a visual rendering of the message behind “Never,” which furthers their recent descent into dark themes of American desolation. Their new album, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, paints a bleak picture of human struggle in the contemporary urban environment, and furthers the titularly self-evident agenda Questlove has been publishing in his How Hip-Hop Failed Black America essays for Vulture. The video for the orchestral, operatic “Never” bewails the trappings of poverty-striken street life, depicting a distressed young man in a post-apocalyptic South Central Los Angeles littered with debris and devoid of life. The city’s underbelly, however, crawls with mutant human monsters whose eyes and mouths are covered by excess skin. The protagonist then sprints through an abstract imagining of a real wasteland, as the heart-wrenching voice of Patty Crash looms overhead: “I woke with a tear drop/All I know is what I know/It’s all I know.” And just when the Roots seem to shine a light of hope, a heart-breaking twist swallows any chance of absolution, submerging the viewer in the man’s plight.