Product Placement as Irony in Yung Jake’s new video “She Don’t Need To Know

In the thumbnail for Yung Jake’s new video “She Don’t Need to Know” you’ll recognize the Vevo logo in the left-hand corner.  Watch 20 seconds and you’ll notice shots of the ubiquitious Beats by Dre pill. Both of these brands are far from strange sights in a music video.  They can be seen in Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”, Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone”, and Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop”. So what makes their presence in this video any different?

Yung Jake has no formal connection to Beats By Dre nor Vevo. He also has no connection to Ciroc, Red Bull, Fiji Water, Comcast NBC Universal, or any of the many other business entities conspicuously featured in this song’s video. You are more likely to find the rapper, conceptual artist and recent CalArts grad in the halls of an art space (he’s had exhibits featured at MOCA and Sundance festival) than in the offices of Universal or Sony.

His latest video/song drop, “She Don’t Need to Know” is an earworm-y pop-trap banger in the vein of Roscoe Dash or Rae Sremmurd.  If you aren’t paying attention, the video and song seems identical to what it’s satirizing. The lyrics are standard rap fare: bitches, money, weed, alcohol. The same goes for its product placements: Ciroc, Patron, Beats by Dre, and Apple products are all common sights in a rap video.  With a more careful eye, you realize the inundation of product placement is intended and the lyrics are wryly sardonic. Yung Jake is the architect of the irony here, and like all good satire the result is comical and subversive. Endorsements and business deals have turned the music industry into a joke that Yung Jake is in on. Just before releasing the video last Wednesday he tweeted: “she don’t need to know is lowkey about my mom.”

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