Exclusive: The Memphis 'broken rap' artist creates an austere strobe-lit manifesto
Flitting between monochrome woodland, New York subway scenes and bedroom-mirror freestyles, this video – courtesy of NYC artist Rimar Villaseñor – paints a strangely naked portrait of Gavin Mays, aka Cities Aviv. Its canvas is “Don’t Ever Look Back”, the closer on new LP Come to Life (out Jan 28 on Young One Records), and the song descends like a sweet sunset, showing the rapper/producer in his spiritual element. Says Mays, “If Come To Life is to be the total mantra, then this piece stands as its title track in that it embodies the personal crossover one must take to step out of one’s self. Merge with the void and don’t ever look back.” For a man given to sonic austerity, Mays clearly covets his mellow, and as strobes punctuate smooth-grain visuals the tune streams along, clipped yet fluid, with its minimal samples and beats complicated by Mays’ leering flow. A minute later, having said his piece, the artist vanishes from the spotlight, merging with the void.