Kevin Abstract released a provocative, cinematic video for “MISERABLE AMERICA.”
“Miserable America” is a song about being queer and Black. The lyrics are very straightforward. On the second verse Kevin Abstract sings, “My boyfriend hates me/Won’t let me meet his parents/Says my skin might scare ’em/Not afraid of my appearance.” The lyrics lack metaphor or innuendo, but they deliver a powerful message nonetheless. Kevin Abstract’s genuine, declarative song is important. Hip-hop and society in general often marginalize the groups in Kevin’s music.
About that society; the song’s title (possibly) suggests that the song is about the present moment. More specifically, my first thought upon seeing the title was that it had something to do with #45 and America’s increased divisiveness. Then I realized that “Miserable America” was a track from “American Boyfriend” which was released in 2016.
Nevertheless, the message is current and relevant. It just so happens that the track wasn’t specifically aimed at our current president.
All of the videos for “American Boyfriend” have a distinctively cinematic style. The opening frame, made to look like movie credits, sets the tone. The set design, camera angles and lighting reinforce the video’s visual style.
If it were a film “Miserable America” would be a combination of “American Beauty” and “Get Out.” The story seems to be that a white man has held Kevin Abstract hostage in his house, stringing him up by his feet. Eventually Kevin is freed when someone shoots the white man. After that Kevin dances wildly.
Matching lyrics with images, the video’s message seems easy enough to parse. It seems like Kevin Abstract is angry. He’s tired of other people’s perceptions defining who he is and confining him. The destruction of those perceptions (i.e. the death of his captor) sparks pure joy in the artist. It’s a beautiful message albeit a bit violent.
Kevin Abstract is a member of the collective BROCKHAMPTON. They released an album in June called “Saturation.” The collective is going on tour soon. Get tickets here.