For decades the conventional wisdom when it comes to filming rap videos has been that you have to spend money to make money. Or, at the very least, appear to have spent money in order to impress people enough into wanting to spend their money on you. Call it the Donald Trump principle. It doesn’t matter if you’ve actually gone bankrupt multiple times, as long as you’re boasting about how rich you are, there’s going to be a big enough percentage of people out there who fall for it.
Before social media, one of the quickest ways to convey the message that you are a rich, and therefor important, was buying filming an ostentatious rap video. Even better, back in the boom days of the 90s, there was actual record label budgets going around to pay for it. Of course, all of the cars, boats, mansions, models, and boats that turn into helicopters piloted by models, that comprise the catalogue of traditional rap video cliches were rented for the day, and didn’t actually belong to the artist. Unless it was 50, because we know that motherfucker burned through all his cash on some bullshit. The basic formula has been the same for so long that the idea of poking fun at it is almost twenty years old now, based on the classic The Roots video “What They Do.”
Nothing changed of course, and these same stupid signifiers continue to show up again and again, which is why the well trod territory is still ripe for satire, in the form of Philadelphia comedian turned rapper Lil Dicky’s “$ave Dat Money.”
Dicky enlisted the aid of Fetty Wap and Rich Homie Quan for the song and video from his recent debut “Professional Rapper.” The conceit is simple, if not as easy to pull off as it might seem: Film a rap video with all of the attendant accoutrements of wealth and privilege, without spending any money. For most of the video it goes about as well as you might expect, with many of the owners of the mansions he approaches shutting him down. But eventually a kind older woman takes him in to her palatial home, and we’re off and running. Mansions. Cars. Women. At one point they even piggy back off a T-Pain video shoot to front like it’s their own.
It’s all in fitting with the theme of the song, which is, of course, about $aving money. Sometimes you gotta save money to make money.
Rap game got it all wrong
We ain’t ’bout to go and spend money just to flex on them
We ain’t really got it like y’all
I’m a type of motherfucker that’ll check the check
Do the math, I ain’t never gettin’ robbed
Those margaritas not goin’ on my card