I kinda wanted to let this video marinate for a minute before I decided how I felt…
...and well, I don’t hate it and I don’t love it either. Estelle has come under fire for the whole “blackface” bit and her defense has pretty much been that she’s black, so there is no way she could be “in blackface.” Mmmmm… I’d love to side with you and chalk it up to it being an artistic choice, but the black make-up coupled with the big ol’ red lips had me kinda looking at you sideways too, ‘Stelly. Once I got past the new-age minstrel aspect, I could appreciate the video for the Missy Elliott x “Feedback” achievement that it is.
“Freak” is an effects-heavy clip that has Estelle modeling hand cuffs, a shiny bob wig, a slightly refined and cinched version of the iconic garbage bag look from “The Rain” and that unfortunate sambo look that seems to be all the rage right now in fashion mags…and Australia. I kinda feel like the video thinks its cooler than it actually is but for me, something is missing. I dunno, its like there’s an across the board lack of energy from everyone involved (artist, dancers, stylists) that is crucial to pulling off something “edgy” like this… or what it was aiming to be. Canadian emcee Kardinall Offishall shows up halfway though with a so-so rap and it just comes off like your c-list buddy showing up two hours late with a bag of soggy potato chips to a party that fizzled out minutes after it began.
So yeah, I appreciate that Estelle tried to switch it up a bit but in the end, she didn’t truly get her “freak” on and the video had me missing the genius of the original “Miss E.” who tends to do this type of ‘ish so much better. Grade: C+
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