The 'American Dream' Through The Kenyan Eyes Of J.S. Ondara

3 hours ago

The video begins nightmarishly enough: a police officer with a rifle holds a dog on a leash, there are three people with paper-bagged masks over their heads, our main character under the covers, the famous Bob Dylan line from "The Times They Are a-Changin'" ("Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command") scribbled on paper. Meanwhile, J.S. Ondara, the singer from Nairobi, Kenya via Minnesota sings atop a sliding bass line: "It was just an American dream."

The song and the video seem to deal with the past, the present and the future all at once. It's a glimpse of America through the main character's delusional vision of life. He goes about his day to day with no clear understanding of what is real and what is not — though he does seem to have a mission in mind.

J.S. Ondara tells NPR Music that "the video follows a man, as he sets upon a journey to purchase a weapon. While on his way, we get a glimpse of the world around him through his eyes, which gives us some insight into his state of mind. Ultimately, the video explores the turbulent times in the country, socially and politically, thereby throwing a shade of irony to the popular notion of 'The American Dream.'"

The song is inspired by his love of rock music, learning English not only in school but through tunes by Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. This song and 10 others will be on J.S. Ondara's debut album Tales of America coming in February of 2019.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.