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
With the recent announcement that District 9 and Elysium filmmaker Neil Blompkamp has cast rappers Ninja and Yo-Landi in the lead of his third film Chappie, there’s no better time to break out one of these columns.
The rap duo (who are a thing, and have a kid together) go by the moniker Die Antwoord when they combine with DJ Hi-Tek, and they make some of the strangest music videos and unique music you’re likely to hear. Hailing from South Africa, the two are the most prominent icons of the “Zef” counter-culture movement, which is kind of a white trash version of ghetto chic. They’ve been a part of a string of aggressive and crazy music videos, and now they’re going to be the leads of a $50m scifi comedy from a mainstream filmmaker. It’s a weird world we live in.
If you’re unfamiliar with the duo, perhaps it indicative to say that they’ve even been involved in a 15-minute short film directed by none other than Harmony Korine, of recent Spring Breakers fame. More about that below.
The duo, their music, and definitely their videos are not for everyone- either you find them fascinating or annoying as piss, so go at your own risk… There’s plenty of NSFW content in the videos below.
ENTER THE NINJA
Their first major video is, naturally, among their more primitive and one after which you could be forgiven for thinking this is all some kind of one-off joke. Merely silly and immature, this is Antwoord before they fully struck on their grungy tone. You can already see some of the awesome production design that will be a big part of their videos though. The inverted black-and-white sets are a great touch.
Note: They did have a very small video prior to this one for the song “Beat Boy” which you can check out here.
Teaming up with Robert Malpage (D.P. of a DTV Free Willy sequel!), the team next spat out Evil Boy, which is a big jump in sohistication, video-wise. Their aesthetic is tighter and the thing is loaded with gross and funny background items as well as a sense of self-awarness. Their real “fok you” attitude is best captured here I think. Also, the keen-eyed will notice a reference to a Neil Blomkamp film, perhaps shadowing their impending partnership.
Here Yo-Landi gets to take the front-and-center with another video that pushes the production value of their videos forward. Here they start tinkering with more socio-political imagery and this is really where they became recognized as a satirical group in South Africa. Yo-Landi yanks on toilet paper featuring a hate-speech-convicted politician from South Africa for example. You also get the start of some paternal abuse imagery that will carry through a lot of their videos.
FOK JULLE NAAIERS
This is a simple one- a more sophisticated return to the spotlit, tableau style of some of their first video. Freaky imagery and close-ups. Basic stuff. You will see a lot of onesies, which popped up in previous videos and continue to be a trademark for the duo. In fact the Pikachu and bear onesies you see here will pop back up later on…
I FINK U FREEKY
Here the rats are sealed as a Die Antwoord thing, the Pikachu onesie is back, and they pull the trigger on a more interesting, detailed exploration of the grayscale tableau style from the last video. This is also possibly their biggest and best song. I like this video a lot- some great sets, cool characters, and ample detail really amp this one up without losing their trashsthetic
BABY’S ON FIRE
This ain’t my favorite of their videos, but the song is good and there’s still plenty of fun in the film. This is the first time (I’m aware of) that they broke things out narratively, and again there’s a focus on Yo-Landi’s troubled home and her toying with the babydoll sexuality she was known for. Ninja runs around with a sword in front of baffled white people, so it’s all good fun. The pastel thing also works for them after so much monochromatic grunge.
FATTY BOOM BOOM
The group’s latest video is their slickest and combines most of their aesthetics together in a narrative that essentially takes a giant shit on Lady Gaga. I dig it, but neither the song nor the video itself rank for me, so I’m eagerly awaiting the next one.
BONUS: “UMSHINI WAM” SHORT FILM w/ HARMONY KORINE
Teaming up with filmmaker Harmony Korine (who is uniquely suited to the group), this is a shockingly charming sort of philosophical origin story for the pair. A mercifully short, much more accessible Trash Humpers, all things considered, I actually dig this little film that played at SXSW and perhaps convinced Blomkamp the two could carry a feature film. This is one of those rare perfect melding of creative people, so I”m not surprised it’s such a weirdly watchable short. Also, there are those onesies again!
That’s it! Thanks for reading and look to CHUD for more info on Chappie as it emerges!
Let me know what you think on twitter, @RennBrown.