2Pac, Dr. Dre-California Love/Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
2Pac's California Love is a staple of mid 90's gangster rap. This was a decade when rap changed forms and leaned toward a harsher, grittier style. The lyrics became more violent and sexualized, much to the chagrin of Media watchdog groups and concerned parents everywhere. Rap moved from the urban outskirts of the music industry to the "safe haven" of suburbia. Once relegated to the 2 hour Yo! MTV Raps program, this musical genre has now found a permanent home in every facet of modern media. The most popular version of the song was first released on 2Pac's double album All Eyez on Me in 1996 and remains one of 2Pac's most recognizable songs. The video for California Love (Part 1) is a wonderful homage to The Mad Max Films, in particular, Beyond Thunderdome.
The MMBT setting has become almost a cliche of Post-apocalyptic, dystopian futures. Set in the Australian outback, the remainder of humanity has created small enclaves of society in which the only currency is gasoline and goods. Our hero, "Mad" Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), finds himself out of fuel and makes his way toward a settlement called "Bartertown" run by Auntie Entity (Tina Turner) and finds himself captured and made to fight the large brute, Blaster, in the Thunderdome of the title: "Two Men enter, one man leaves."
The video captures the visual style of George Miller's Mad Max Trilogy, with 2Pac and Dr. Dre in full post-apocalyptic regalia. Chris Tucker, who had just come out in the first Friday film, plays the Thunderdome announcer (in a performance that is very reminiscent of his turn as Ruby Rod in The Fifth Element). George Clinton plays "Monster", the evil tribal chief (Standing in as an analog for Auntie Entity/The Humungus) This opening introduction also offers a quick nod to The Warriors, when Monster utters the immortal line:"Can-You-Dig It!" Instead of fighting in this Thunderdome, whoever controls the dance floor appears to be the victor. The video, like the film, culminates in a race through the desert, but where the video fades into a dream ending to make way for part two (Which features Dre's original version of the song) the film ends in an anticlimactic standoff, that could only have been inspired by Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
A great many people think this video is ill suited for this song. I disagree. It is an inspired cinematic homage, particularly for the rap/hip hop genre, which is notorious for being lackluster in the music video department. Here we see the usual sexy dancers, but in a cinematic setting with somewhat of a story (Cinematic style is more like it). The visuals are enough for me, you can only see gold chains and Bentleys so many times before they lose all meaning (Ironically, the videos second part is more in line with typical Rap video fare). Give us something we haven't seen before-or at the very least something we remember fondly.