Because while the Spike-Jonze directed clip (which just premiered on MTV and MTV.com) doesn’t feature a single Gulfstream G450, Cuban cigar, Hermes clutch or Benz, it is still a subtly swagged-out affair — a cocksure, cool thing in which the dynamic duo take a saber saw to a glistening new Maybach and turn it into a tricked-out “Thunderdome” cruiser, then do doughnuts in a parking lot with a gaggle of models packed in the back.
Oh, and there are some fireworks too.
And really, on the swag scale, that ranks somewhere between 10 and 30 thousand 100 million, which certainly makes “Otis” one of the more assured videos to come down the pipeline in a long while. And give credit to all parties involved that they realized they really didn’t need to do much of anything else in the clip; after all, ’Ye, Hov and Jonze are certainly three of the biggest stars in the world, and their collaboration could’ve easily devolved into the realm of self-parody (see the late, not-so-great Diddy and Nas team-up “Hate Me Now”). Instead, we get a video that’s little more than a couple of dudes (and Aziz Ansari) tooling around in a parking lot — which, really, is all “Otis” needs to be.
Because like Watch the Throne, the album from which it comes , the main attraction of “Otis” lies in the fact that it features roughly 50 percent of the biggest rap names in the game (not to say the song isn’t also great, because it is). There’s a genuine thrill in watching West and Jay hang over each other while delivering their verses or crack up behind the wheel of the Maybach; in a way, it’s like we’re getting a tiny glimpse into their private world. And that’s what makes the video such a treat.
Unlike his previous collaborations with West — the maudlin short film “We Were Once a Fairytale” or the deceptively simple “Flashing Lights” — with “Otis,” Jonze plays it relatively straight. There are the same tracking shots he’s used in old Beastie Boys videos, and the blown-out color palette recalls even earlier work like R.E.M.’s “Crush With Eyeliner” or “Electrolite.” He’s staying true to his roots, which, given the caliber of everyone involved, is an accomplishment in its own right.
So while “Otis” might not be what you were expecting, in a lot of ways, it’s even more. There’s an unabashed joy to it, and there’s no denying the power of its singular image, either: slicing and dicing a Maybach (average sticker price: $380,000) is a bold, ballsy declaration, indeed. One that speaks louder than a million boasts.