David Browne
May 28, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

We grade videos from Jay-Z, Britney, and more

JAY-Z, ”99 Problems” Jigga’s gunfire execution isn’t the only arresting thing about his supposed final video. It’s the way it recycles hip-hop-clip cliches — choreographed dancers, prison scenes, bikini-clad women — so artfully, thanks to Mark Romanek’s black-and-white cinematography. The Vincent Gallo and Rick Rubin cameos are fun too. A

THE STREETS, ”Fit but You Know It” Every picture truly tells a story as Brit punk-rapper Mike Skinner flips through snapshots of his slacker self — in bars and clubs, on the beach, and in fast-food shops — and watches each image become an animated minimovie. The anti-buff-culture song may be clunky, but the clever, witty clip never is. A-

BRITNEY SPEARS, ”Everytime” This ”controversial” video ”about suicide” is actually neither. Depressed, overwhelmed superstar Britney submerges herself in her hotel-room hot tub and is rescued, apparently too late, by video beau Stephen Dorff. It’s just a fantasy, of course: Even in fake death, she’s a tease. C

USHER, ”Burn” Okay, the pool engulfed in flames is a nice touch, and the bed afire is almost as good. But this otherwise uninvolving clip, accompanying this most snail-like of slow jams, doesn’t communicate much else beyond how unhappy stars can be in their tastefully furnished luxury homes. C-

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