D Smoke first wowed the music world when he won the inaugural season of “Rhythm + Flow,” Netflix’s hip-hop competition show with Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I. as judges. Impressing both the panel and viewers at home with meaningful, uplifting verses, the Inglewood, Calif. native, whose real name is Daniel Farris, dropped his debut album “Black Habits” earlier this year via EMPIRE and is now releasing the official music video for “Lights On” featuring his blood brother SiR (who’s signed to TDE, home to Kendrick Lamar) on the track and Issa Rae in a starring role as a gun-wielding stripper. Danny Trejo and fellow L.A. rapper G Perico also appear in smaller roles.
Directed by Jack Begert of Psycho-Films (Jay Rock’s “Wow Freestyle” & Kings Dead,” ScHoolboy Q’s “Numb Numb Juice”), the cinematic visual plays out the storyline backwards, beginning with the “Insecure” star sitting in the passenger seat while Smoke and SiR cruise the streets.
More from Variety
The video then twists to Rae’s exit from a strip club, where she is a featured dancer. As Smoke explains, the visual was filmed to showcase the duality of strip clubs, from underbelly entertainment with sensationalized tropes, to the sort of place where a woman might harness her own strength and power amid fluttering bills. “We wanted to tell a story without bias, that simply shows a series of event s tied to an empowered woman who takes what she wants and is willing to face the consequences that result,” he says.
What happens inside a strip club is a transactional exchange where neither the patron or dancer are better than the other, he continues. “No one should judge how another makes ends meet. Keep the lights on.”
Speaking of his Inglewood neighbor Rae, D Smoke adds: “As creatives, we’re always a little excited to rattle the collective zeitgeist. The beauty of having Issa Rae involved as our lead exotic dancer, we hope the video accomplishes that. She’s a creative force who’s been disrupting the industry for nearly 10 years and we’re ecstatic she saw this as an opportunity to display her talent in a new light.”
Watch the video above.
Best of Variety