By My Side (2019)
Jubrillent, Courtney Brown 
Soul Pro
#submission2020  #narrative 

7 December 2019 Share

Are we on their side?

Looking at the video, we instantly see a guy wearing a cool hat, while his brother gets the girls. But the guy doesn’t mind because it’s all happening in a peaceful copy of the United States.

Is this the takeaway?

The video begins with statues and sculptures in a park. It shows us historic walls and suburban areas. At these locations we follow a young man through one specific date with his girlfriend starting in the park and ending in a diner. In parallel he and his brother are rapping about the beauty of a happy relationship. In the evening the brother drives around and eventually parks his car. The young man comes from the date and gets in, and they drive off together.

The lyrics are about the positive emotions caused by having a person by one’s side.

Now the video goes beyond that. It introduces a third person. It stages the abstract hymn of the lyrics in specific surroundings and in specific situations focusing on different kinds of relationships in different phases/stages. The lyrics describe feelings. The video tells a story.

But this story is more complicated than it seems, and it ends with a major plot twist.

The narrative is presented in two parallel streams. On the one hand, there is the performance of the song by the two young men. On the other hand, there is the date of one of them with a woman. At the end of the day his brother picks him up. The rapping and the dating happen in separate streams but at minute 3:38⁠ the two streams merge into one. The brother is suddenly part of the dating story, the song is coming out of the car radio now, and the two brothers are only rapping along to it and starting a conversation.

“By My Side” not so much refers to the girl hopefully being by the brother’s side, it mostly refers to the brothers definitely being by each other’s side.

There is no doubt that this is a rap video. However, it is among the kind of rap videos in which the story is not only rapped but also enacted. It is special. It is a “narrative” rap video like these rare examples: “No Games⁠”, “Different Cloth⁠” or “Wake Up⁠”.

How did Soul Pro start? They have published three tracks on Soundcloud⁠ and posted clips of themselves rapping into the camera on Instagram⁠. Releasing a music video was in itself already a significant step for Soul Pro, and what an intriguing music video they made!

By the way, “By My Side” also serves the purpose of introducing and presenting the artists while telling the story of the song. Elijah⁠ and Isaiah⁠ Brown seem to take their group Soul Pro⁠ seriously.

What about the two directors of the video, Jubrillent⁠ and Courtney Brown?

This year Jubrillent directed four music videos for four different artists. They all show people rapping into the camera (“ Bubble Up⁠”, “Grammy⁠” and “Myself⁠”) except “By My Side”, which is his first narrative video.

And Courtney Brown has produced three music videos so far, one for AJay in Thailand and two for the Reggae artist Jah Beng: “Jahovah⁠“ and ”Biggest Part Of Me⁠“. “By My Side” was the first one he directed.

As we can see: many first steps of the people involved, leading to an impressive result!

But what is the video’s place in the greater scheme of things? How does it fit into the rich history of rap videos?

Over the past 40 years, rap videos have developed a series of certain standard elements. Going through these typical rap videos

we observe the development of common elements like exclusive cars, gestures, female bottoms, designer clothes, gangs, money, cops, guns, golden chains, conflicts, product placements, Beats by Dre product placements and drugs.

Most importantly, this evolution has become a competition in which each new rap video tries to top its predecessors by new levels of exaggeration; more expensive cars, more nudity and more and more bank notes thrown into the air.

Soul Pro decided not to join this race. They thoroughly selected their elements out of the list of common rap video properties, which makes this music video a convincingly authentic rap video.

But this is not only a special rap video, it is also a special love video.

As three examples (recently reviewed by us) show, “love” is still a topic in 2019/2020. “You Ain't Got Me Waiting⁠” deals with self-confidence in an unhappy relationship, “Loving You⁠” deals with “loving” as a deliberate decision and “Lose You to Love Me⁠” deals with Selena Gomez.

“By My Side” goes a step further. It seeks the common ground between romantic relationships and regular friendships. What is the essence of love? Since Haneke’s film “Amour⁠” we know the answer: love is not falling in love, love is being by someone’s side. Soul Pro nailed it.

Our verdict: This music video adds something special to the lyrics. It is a narrative rap video, it finds a new path within the many directions of the rap video genre and it goes to the bottom of the mystery of love. It is even challenging to decipher. This music video is a masterpiece.

Send us a photo of your cool hat.