J. Cole must know a good taxidermist. Who else would cut off three SoundCloud rapper’s heads and mount them on a wall with gold plates reading, “Your Favorite Rapper,” “This Could Be You” and “Ask For A Feature?” An insane person in the surrealist world of the “Middle Child” video, that’s who.
Directed by Mez, “Middle Child” is a monument to the Dreamville rapper’s bold proclamation, “I’m the greatest right now.” The outlandish visual features a journey through dark woods filled with dead bodies and a white woman buying a black woman’s face at the supermarket. Each location comes with its own overt and subtle symbols regarding the current state of rap, race and capitalism.
“Middle Child” is about stasis and what happens when one of the world’s most successful rappers acknowledges being stuck within his era and between generations. It presents a nuanced portrait of a man ready to shed his insular habits in service of something bigger than himself as he wrestles between the generation that came before him (Jay-Z, Kanye West) and the musical children that used to be against him (Lil Pump). The T-Minus produced song struck a chord with Cole’s fans, quickly becoming his highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 at Number Four.