By Opheli Garcia Lawler
For a long time rap music videos have been thought of to be simple party videos, with Cash Money and DJ Khaled producing almost exclusively videos that show a lavish lifestyle with women, money, drugs and cars. The rap anthem “Mercy” is an example of what a “stereotypical” rap video, with Kanye West and Big Sean bouncing around in a garage full of dope cars. Even that video has more artistic aspects to it than some of its anthemic predecessors, but rap and hip hop videos have so many more dimensions than a squad of dudes surrounded by cars and women.
Cole is an example of an artist who consistently creates thoughtful artistic well executed videos. “G.O.M.D.” and “Crooked Smile” send out strong social and political messages and serve as short films that provide a narrative that some may not have been exposed or given a platform otherwise.“Wet Dreamz” which was already an incredible song that was honest about sex and first times, took the “aww” factor up a notch when the video was shot using actual puppies for a story of puppy love.
Kendrick Lamar set a high bar with his videos for “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City,” but took it one step further for his videos for “To Pimp a Butterfly.” “Alright” became an anthem for the modern civil rights movement, and the video was artistry that transcended the realm of music videos. It was an art house short film. “These Walls”, “For Free,” “i,” and “King Kunta” are also stunning examples of beautiful, thoughtful and entertaining videos.
“Piss On Your Grave” a video recently debuted by Travis Scott and Kanye West, seems like the opening to a well done horror film, and its artistic qualities go far beyond that of most music videos. With fog flowing through a forest, which was located in a rural area of France, Travis Scott walks through, a lone ominous figure. Kanye soon joins him, and the overall effect is mystifying and a bit intimidating.
Even if a video isn’t chock full of a message, rap videos, in general, have taken on a much more artistic nature as common practice, not exception. The expansion of artistry, creativity, and perception of what a “rap video” looks like is one of the contributing factors to the changing viewpoint on rap. The extreme diversity in music videos only serves as a reflection of the ample diversity present in within the genre of rap itself. Rap can be simple, it can be complex, it can mystify, it can explain, it can inspire. It is not a “one size fits all” genre.
Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org