John Legend highlights the country’s current social and political divisions in the artful video for “Penthouse Floor,” his Chance the Rapper-assisted single off last year’s Darkness and Light.
The clip finds Legend as a hotel employee, who takes a trip to the “Penthouse Floor,” after seeing protests going on outside. There are symbols that reference Black Lives Matter, President Donald Trump, and Colin Kaepernick throughout the clip.
A penthouse suite becomes utopia after a Trump supporter throws his “Make America Great Again” hat to the ground. Police officers, housekeeping employees, and people of all walks of life mingle and share laughs in this room, while Legend plays the piano. But soon, those people disappear. It was all just a dream.
According to Legend, the song started as a reference for upward mobility and escapism. “The more I sat with the song as I was making the record, I wanted to have more attention in the song where I was thinking about not just upward mobility and escaping, but also thinking about what it means to come from humble beginnings like I come from, a blue collar family, where people that are often ignored and forgotten about, and to elevate to more rarified air like I am now but to not forget about where you come from,” he told Complex. “And to use your power and status to uplift people and shine a light on places where we come from. That is what the song lyrically evolved to and that is what the video represents.”
While Chance doesn’t appear in the video, Legend beamed about their collaboration. “I was so happy for him to be on the song, and would have loved for him to be in the video but it just didn’t work out logistically,” he said. “I love his verse because it’s really clever and perfectly captures what the song is about.”
The R&B crooner isn’t the only artist to speak out against Trump. Recently, Eminem did the same on “The Storm” freestyle, which Legend called “dope” and “powerful.”
“I love that he’s saying we all live in this country together, and if you vote for that then you are saying certain things about what you believe and what you want this country to be,” he said. “When [Trump] says that Mexicans are rapist and killers, you can’t vote for him and not own that. When he says that he wants to ban Muslims, you can’t vote for him and not own that. When he’s the birther-in-chief and questioning the credentials of Barack Obama, the first black president, you can’t vote for him and not own all of that. Eminem is saying if you voted for that and you own that, then we are not on the same team, and I have to concur.”