Detroit-bred rapper and producer Black Milk's new video for "Laugh Now Cry Later" plays like an episode of Netflix's sci-fi horror hit Black Mirror, with its incisive commentary on the impact of technology.
The visual, directed by Gerard Victor, portrays a world of people zombified under the trance of social media. "Do I see a see a soul, or do I see a facade? / Either you hurt or happy, can't make up your mind," Black Milk rhymes.
Shot to resemble a series of Instagram stills, the video makes it virtually impossible to tell whether the couple in question is portrayed by mannequins or actors.
"We directed the characters in a way that could leave the viewer to wonder if they're real people or not," Black Milk tells NPR Music for the video's premiere. "Are they humans in a robot-like state or are they robots mimicking human behavior?"
"Laugh Now Cry Later" is a highlight from Black Milk's most thoughtful, socially-charged album yet, Fever, out Friday, Feb. 23. The song seesaws between the positive and negative extremes of social media — from self-empowering images of blackness to tragic videos of police killing black Americans. It's one offering from an album that attempts to make sense of the feverish atmosphere of inequality, political distrust and fleeting happiness.
Though well aware of the dangers of social media, that doesn't make Black Milk exempt from its wiles. The last scene of the "Laugh Now Cry Later" video finds him frozen with the same eerie green-eyed stare as the main characters.
"I didn't want to criticize the characters' social media-induced trance, so I added myself as the delivery guy to show that I, too, am caught in the 'trap.'"