The music video is an interesting and rewarding artform to explore, but one that doesn’t get enough attention from those who love film. While music videos as we traditionally think of them are unarguably mired in the world of the commercial, this doesn’t prevent them from serving as an amazing bridge between music, art, and cinema. A perfect format for short-storytelling, aesthetic exploration, tone poems, and (most importantly) experimentation, it is the playground of filmmakers and artists who are often pulling off the most fun and inventive accomplishments of anyone working with motion-pictures. Each Renn Loves Music Videos takes a look at a batch of music videos –new, old, weird, radical, classic, experimental, and everything in between– to try and figure out what makes each one special.Keep in mind that many older videos aren’t available in magnificent quality.Graphic photo: Nathan Jones
Y.N.RichKids – “Hot Cheetos & Takis”
So this entry of R<3sMV is going to be heavy with irony, so to make it palatable I’m going to begin and end with two videos that require no irony at all.
Down below I’ll be including this year’s VMA winner for Best Hip-Hop video, but I’m telling you right now it is doesn’t really top “Hot Cheetos & Takis” by the Y.N.RichKids- a group formed out out of a Minneanapolis after-school program called Beats & Rhymes. The group of kids teamed up with a legit producer and production company to produce this track and video, which captures a lot of kids with very real skill rapping about tasty snacks. It’s great work, it’s accessible, it’s community-positive, and I can only imagine where these kids will go from here. They’ve got the stage now, so somebody’s going to break out and make a career out of this- no doubt. The video is obviously boilerplate stuff with all the lens flares and earthquake effects one could expect, but these kids know how to properly mug for the camera, which is harder than you’d think. Enjoy this one, because the song’s not leaving your head for the rest of the day…
JJ Doom – “GUV’NOR”
So here it is: Doom is absolute, hands-down my favorite rapper. From his brilliant insane lyrics to his top-shelf beats, there’s no one else that’s generated as much pure science as Doom (be he MF, King Ghidorah, Vik Vaughn at any given moment). Since I’m not stupid enough to buy a ticket and attend one of his live shows, I also find his doombot, sending-imposters-to-perform-for-him villainy endlessly amusing. All that said, he’s not a rapper known for having great videos. There are a few fun videos peppered throughout his career, but much of it is either super cheap or animated stuff to avoid the fact that Doom has always been a pretty schlubby dude- pretty much anti-Swag incarnate. His new video though, embraces the pot belly and uses a simple, fun technique to let his rhymes rule but back them with some twisty shit for your eyeballs. The track is from his new collaboration with Jneiro Jarel, dubbed JJ Doom, and it’s somehow part of the “Rizlab” project series that I can’t quite wrap my head around.
2 Chainz Ft. Kanye West – “Birthday Song”
Well you can’t say Odd Future hasn’t affected the game. Trading on a serious Tim & Eric vibe by way of Chris Cunningham/Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker video, 2 Chainz and Kanye rap about booties and Gucci, all with the later’s trademark hedonistic sarcasm, while all of hip hop culture seems to rot and degenerate into madness around them. I’ve never been able to figure out if I actually like Kanye and his ability to wallow in self-aware cockiness to produce some kind of Warhol-like pop art that says nothing, and yet says all there is to say about hip-hop. It’s an orgy of self-critiquing over-indulgence that this video perfectly captures. It’s cool, it’s gross, it’s cool because it’s gross, and it’s even cooler because it’s cool while being gross. Try pulling yourself out of that hip-hop rabbit hole, and watch out for the stack of pancakes next to the Virgin Mary.
Drake ft. Lil Wayne – “HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)”
The winner of last week’s MTV Video Music Award for Best Hip Hop Video, this Drake & Lil Wayne short is another super ironic hip hop video that drops a pile of swag on Drake’s re-bar mitzvah ceremony. It’s trading on a pretty simple style and a sardonic (read: me avoiding saying the word “ironic” for the 10th time) vibe, but it’s definitely effective. It helps that it’s genuinely fun to watch, though I know it’s not the best Hip Hop video I’ve seen this year.
P.O.S. – “Fuck Your Stuff”
It’s always nice to see a little punk rock get injected into hip hop, and this brand new P.O.S. video definitely does the job. There’s been a ton of hype around Tyler The Creator & Co’s punk stylings in the last year, but there’s also a whole self-aware, absurd humor element to it that complicates it. You can’t be held responsible for having actual ideas if everything’s a joke, right? P.O.S. has no such qualms, making more than clear his feelings towards commercialism, materialism, and “image” in general. There’s plenty of cliche images of fire and spraypaint –the common tools of any half-assed anarchist– but it’s a beautifully shot video, and its obligatory After Effects gimmick is a cool one: a neat-looking pixelation of every logo and piece of art. The branding censorship saturates the video, and makes the image of a blocked out US flag potent enough to make this a rap video worth paying attention to.
Beastie Boys – “Intergalactic”
You’ve seen this video. I know you’ve seen it! But did you know that it was the first video to win the Best Hip Hop Video VMA that Drake most recently one? Yep, in 1999 the VMA’s introduced the award, and this brilliant blast of a short took home the (rather appropriate) Moon Man. You don’t need me to tell you how amazing the low-rent Kaiju battle and the slow-mo/hyper-speed antics of the rap trio is, so enjoy and pour one out for the departed MCA.
That’s it for this week!
I appreciate you taking the time to read through this column, and I hope you’re looking forward to more.
I’m very much open to suggestions so if there’s a video you’d like to see appear, shoot me the name and a link to a place where it can be watched. I’ll make sure to let everybody know who submitted it. General feedback is also very welcome, via email, or on twitter… @RennBrown.