I’ve always been fascinated by music videos. The birth of my curiosity stemmed from coming home after school and frantically looking for the TV remote to press 350. Before the days of recorded programmes, I would diligently schedule my day to watch each musical channel playing the latest hits and found excitement in catching my favourite song.
It is here where I saw the creative process of how artists translate an auditory experience into the visual domain. How the two complement each other and where the video enhances a particular theme. As I have grown older my appreciation has grown where I pick up on the considerable attention to detail behind each and every object within the video. My love has further deepened when videos push the boundaries of creativity by centring a message and leaving the audience spellbound, inspired or simply providing a momentary respite from the ills of society.
It is within these moments where we catch a glimpse of the human possibilities visually displayed before our eyes. It calls upon us to tap into our creative mindset in order to find an outlet and show up as fully authentic. To honour our humanity as an offering to the world.
No doubt reading the comments under such videos and seeing a plethora of compliments highlighting how such representation makes them feel proud, seen, appreciated and celebrated. A creative antidote to the caricatures of blackness, sexuality, womanhood, manhood, childhood which constantly deprive black individuals of their humanity.
Just for you, I have selected a few calming, cathartic visuals from beautiful music videos which use themes of blackness to varying degrees; where blackness is centred or used as a thread to connect the multifaceted human experience.
- Michael Kiwanuka – One More Night https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Sw2JJ5nSbM This video is fun, trippy and carefree – filled with multiple visual effects. It starts off as a narrow letterbox lens and as the song progresses the scene expands. I like the dizzying arrangement of the camera angles and the carefree element of the choreography. I love how my guy with the long legs is just free styling simply feeling out the vibe of the track.
- Solange – When I get home directors cut https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q55AVeXzqeE (It’s a visual film complementing her whole 2019 album. Yes, its 41:20 minutes – Perhaps if you have the time on a chill Sunday afternoon, watch it from start to finish. There are so many creative and narrative elements to this piece, but I would say take from it what speaks to you. Mine would probably be Sound of the Rain with the uterus-inspired flying machines (34:35)
- Mereba – The Jungle is the Only Way Out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1XThoGuQvg I love the stillness, imagery and poetry interweaved between each of the tracks from her album. It’s a beautiful curative immersive experience.
- Kojey Radical – WATER (IF ONLY THEY KNEW) ft. Mahalia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6CbtXl2JUM Michaela Cole’s voice at the beginning provided a poetic background to segue into Kojey’s appearance. The video plays around with speed using choreography, musicality and imagery to take us on a journey and hone in on multiple messages of identity.
- Aaliyah – Rock the boat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5AAcgtMjUI An absolute sensual classic; Aaliyah’s soft vocals and tropical scenery provided the perfect synchronicity. Her influence undoubtedly transcended her death, you don’t have to look far to see how her subtle musicality & artistry has inspired many
- Victoria Monet– Moment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAYAzmehOoQ IIf this isn’t sensuality personified then I don’t know what is; the clever storyline, camera angles, love birds and beautiful landscape in South Africa certainly sets the stage with the ongoing mantra to seize the here and now
- Maségo – Queen tings ft. Tiffany Gouché https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_k81z6rpuw An ode to Femininity energy, the video embeds themes of femininity within a picturesque nature filled environment – Maségo truly knows how to work the saxophone. I love the circulating camera angles and lioness imagery.
- Sampha the Great – Energy ft. Nadeem Din Gabisi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDubhAKSeB0 The rhythms and percussion carry the energy of the song evoking a spiritual element. The pidgin English contextualises the homegrown message of life and thereafter
- Leon Bridges – River https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hegd4xNfRo A video depicting themes of community, struggle, love and humanity. I loved the authentic scenes interwoven in the music video such as the crying toddler finding refuge in a caring pair of hands and Bridges feeling the rain.
- Mayra Andrade – Afeto https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5PsIN_FkF4 This track is a vibe – the crashing sounds of the waves in the intro/outro contextualise the song within the coastal background definitely a nice touch. I love how Mayra embodies the beat at 3:16 compounded by simplistic imagery; soft fabrics flowing in the wind
I want to provide no illusion that the marrying of auditory to visual is by any means an easy task; it requires the skilful collaboration and trust between the artist, director and multiple individuals to bring a concept to light. I want to say that I appreciate you for using your gift to give to the world.
What visuals inspire you? What sounds speak to you?
By Natasha Joseph