Monday, April 28, 2008

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Nike is all about marketing.

Their products have never done much for me. Every single pair of Nike shoes I’ve owned have hurt my feet, so after a while I quit buying them. I’m not a famous athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I run more than the average human on the planet, and all I know is that Nike running shoes hurt my feet. So be it.

Nike has a new advertising campaign out, for their Sparq Training concept. If you watch any sports on television, you’ve seen it. If you don’t, you may have seen it anyway. It “stars” LaDanian Tomlinson and Steve Nash, plus some other professional athletes whose identity I should probably know off the top of my head, as well as some “normal” people doing some extraordinary things.

It’s a brilliant ad, filmed and edited as well as just about anything you’ll see nominated for an Academy Award. But the best thing about it is the music. And thanks to the modern miracle known as the Internet, I now know that the song is “List of Demands,” by Saul Williams. And what a song it is – magnificently propulsive, immediately recognizable, and right away you know that it is going to leave an imprint on your brain that forces you to hear the song – in your sleep, in the shower, at work, running…in short, an absolute classic, from the first listen.

And for me, the confluence of Nike and Saul Williams is where things get really interesting. Though I’d heard of him, this is the first piece of his music I’ve heard. Based on this one song, it sure sounds like he is an heir to the great Gil Scott-Heron, producing art that entertains, but also leaves the listener edgy; uncomfortable.

Check out these lyrics from the song, and ask yourself what relevance they may have to the life of LaDanian Tomlinson and Steve Nash.

I got a list of demands written on the palm of my hands.
I ball my fist and you're gonna know where I stand.
We're living hand to mouth!
You wanna be somebody?
See somebody?
Try and free somebody?
I gotta list of demands written on the palm of my hands.
I ball my fist and you're gonna know where I stand.
We're living hand to mouth!
Hand to mouth!

And then there’s this:

Ecstacy, suffering, Echinacea, bufferin.
We aim to remember what we choose to forget.
God's just a baby and her diaper is wet.
Call the police!
I'm strapped to the teeth and liable to disregard your every belief.
Call on the law!
I'm fixin' to draw a line between what is and seems and call up a brawl.
Call'em up now!
'cause it's about to go pow!
I'm standing on the threshold of the ups and the downs.
Call up a truce!
'cause I'm about to bust loose.
Protect ya neck,'cause, son,
I'm breaking out of my noose.

And there you have it, the latest Nike advertising campaign. This is all very strange, but I love it.

And here’s the song which provided the inspiration for the title of this post, from the master himself.

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