John Legend looks for an escape in a world of division in the brand new, politically-themed video for “Penthouse Floor,” his Chance the Rapper-assisted single off last year’s Darkness and Light.
In the 5-minute visual, the R&B crooner plays a hotel employee who after seeing protests going on outside looks for solace in the hotel’s presidential suite. There are symbols that reference Black Lives Matter, President Donald Trump, and Colin Kaepernick throughout the clip.
The 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 the 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 love Chance, I think he is one of the most exciting new artists that we have right now,” said John. “I love that he is so active, particularly in Chicago, and doing what he can to uplift his city. I think he is a perfect illustration of someone who has reached rarified heights that hasn’t forgotten where he has come from and uses his platform to empower other people and shine a light on his community. 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. I love his verse because it’s really clever and perfectly captures what the song is about.”