“Nothing but a bare face lie / Is all you c**ts can hold on to,” is the opening lyrics of the hard-hitting and feisty Young Fathers’ new song, “Shame.” The second studio album from the Scottish hip-hop group out of Edinburgh was released this past week and is oddly titled White Men Are Black Men Too. Their newest single and music video for “Shame” is a wonderful cataclysm of TV on the Radio meets WU LYF meets a mixture of the spirit of The Hives and Future Islands. It’s a grungy, very sporadic, and multi-layered track that finds Young Fathers truly capturing their unique combination and sound. After winning the Mercury Prize last year for their debut studio album, Dead, Young Fathers have a lot to live up to, and they’re continuing to succeed.
The music video was directed by Jeremy Cole and features a guy in his early twenties with a short bowl cut, acne, wearing a tracksuit, and bleeding from his forehead. The man looks pissed. The camera cuts quickly to show the anguish and ambiguity of this crazed guy jogging down the street. It also cuts between different time frames, to the point where you wonder if they are the same character. The guy takes off his jacket, wearing a white undershirt with blood in the shape of a bullet wound in his back. The uncertainty and angst that drives the video is straight from the obscurity of the song itself. The repetitive lyrics of “It ain’t right,” and “Shame on you” show vividly where their state of mind is. They’re angry and don’t hold back their punches.
As the track’s electronics start sputtering out of control, the video fades to all-white. After a few seconds, we see the lead lying on the floor, more blood spilling down from his forehead. He gets up in a parking lot, by the side of a body of water, and starts dancing. He’s fully invested in the song and just goes for it.
Overall, “Shame” is a wonderful story of aggression mixed in with some muffled vocals, delicate harmonies, sharp electronics and machinery sounds, and an ending choir. It’s a vivid, extraordinary track with a well-shot and great character piece that only slightly gives us a little bit more context to the otherwise un-categorical Young Fathers.