While the rap world clamors for a rumored Jay-Z and Beyonce collaborative album, one hip-hop couple already has a joint project in the can and awaiting a March 30 release. Jean Grae and Quelle Chris have been engaged since December of last year, about as long as they’ve been plotting and recording Everything’s Fine, an album they hope becomes one of rap’s first truly serious addresses to the issue of mental health. While they’ve already released one incredibly weird video for “Gold, Purple, Orange,” they decided they had to up the ante for “Zero,” which they debuted today via Wired, of all places.
The reason for the unusual launching pad is simple: The video is modeled after an old-school video game, like one you’d find on a Nintendo Entertainment System — or Famicom, if you hail from the land of the console’s origin. The visuals evoke cutscenes from games like Ninja Gaiden, which revolutionized storytelling in video games, while making from a nice break from all the digitally animated music videos that have cropped up of late. They aren’t the first rappers to dabble in video games this week, but their video is certainly the most creative effort to come from hip-hop’s “newfound” fascination with the digital realm of geek culture.
Quelle tells Wired that it was a longer process than originally expected, but well worth the effort. “Thanks to the amazing community of sprite archivers and game designers that put their sprites up from the past and make them available to people, I was able to use pre-existing sprites and manipulate them—take certain aspects of those and form them into characters I needed,” he says.
The video has an intricate plot involving surreal characters Zero (Grae) and Lt. Quelle of the Detroit Revolt (Chris) chasing down a capitalist villain. Check it out above and look out for Everything’s Fine releasing later this month via Mello Music Group.