Watch J. Cole Play the Villain in His ‘She Knows’ Video
By Courtney E. Smith
How do you get a hip-hop video that looks nothing at all like most hip-hop videos? Hire a guy who cut his teeth directing for indie acts. That’s exactly what J. Cole did for “She Knows” by tapping Sam Pilling, the auteur behind similarly unsettling clips for The Weeknd, SBTRKT, WULYF and Mikky Ekko — although he did take dark dives for Usher’s “Climax” and Juicy J’s “One of Those Nights” as well.
It’s a smart match for “She Knows,” which features Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman and samples indie rockers Cults. What’s remarkable about it as a video is that it’s shot as a day in the life with an amazing emotional center that could happen to literally anyone. It’s set in a generic middle class neighborhood, and yet Pilling manages to get at the point with a cast completely devoid of the usual assortment of white faces.
Cole’s lone appearance only lasts a few seconds, as the other man in an affair scenario. Check it out below.
Given the content of the song, the viewer only gets the feeling after the emotional reveal that it could be about the mom in this story, giving the impression that you’re watching an alternative point of view shot in a bigger universe of intertwined narratives.
Cole recently announced the launch of his own Dreamville Records in conjunction with Interscope (owned by Universal Music Group), an unusual choice considering he’s a Roc Nation signee and his own debut album was released by Columbia Records (owned by Sony Music). His interview with Billboard details an executive role with the label, seemingly different from most artists who sign these kind of label deals within the same company.