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Farai Lion Warrior Video
Farai ‘Lion Warrior’ video

The music videos you need to see this month

From pictures of black strength to outrageous and NSFW images, here are five of January’s best videos

From Missy Elliott’s continued futurism to yet-more-proof that Tinashe’s talents are often unappreciated to Migos being straight-up silly, the first month of 2017 has already seen its share of brilliant music videos. We’ve rounded up five that stuck out to us in particular.

AUSTRA – “I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOURSELF”

Austra’s “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself” video sees the band’s Katie Stelmanis play Lisa Nowak, the former NASA astronaut who suffered a breakdown and was charged with attempted kidnapping, burglary, and battery in 2007. Feeling that Nowak’s incredible achievements were ignored and her character ridiculed by the media in its coverage of the story, Stelmanis and director M-Blash use the video to reclaim the narrative and give some justice to Nowak. As Stelmanis explained to us, the video is an exploration of depression and mental health in relation to the private and public arenas – the footage mirrors this, shot covertly between both private and public property. “The whole thing was done with a secret camera, taking it into places we weren’t allowed to and just shooting there until we got kicked out,” she said.

CHRISTEENE – “BUTT MUSCLE”

In one of the most outrageous videos you’ll see this month (or year, or lifetime), transgressive musician, performance artist, ‘drag terrorist’, and rapper Christeene teams up with director Matt Lambert and Rick Owens for the very NSFW “Butt Muscle”. Amongst other things, you’ll see Christeene with Rick Owens’ hair in her asshole, pissing into his mouth while kissing his partner Michèle Lamy. (In Christeene’s own words: “I wanted to put his hair up my butthole and then coming out of my mouth and then he was like, ‘Hey, how about you pee on me?’ And I said yes.”) It’s shocking, sure, but it’s not shock: as Christeene, Owens, and Lambert explained to us, the video comes from a place of love, covering themes like the broad range of human sexuality and censorship. You can watch the full, uncensored version here.

FARAI – “LION WARRIOR”

London-based Farai’s “Lion Warrior” is a rousing, uplifting battle cry that recalls new wave groups like Tubeway Army. Its video, directed by Akinola Davies Jr. (who previously helped create Klein’s stunning “Marks of Worship” film), is a picture of black mettle, portraying the pride and strength of the subjects photographed. As the song’s producer Tøne explained to Crack, “As black artists we really felt self representation is important and to quote Akin, ‘To identify the black community as both the subjects and creators of art. The overlying theme is industriousness of black market in whichever form it exists and to critique who controls that narrative’.”

JENNY HVAL – “THE GREAT UNDRESSING”

In Jenny Hval’s NSFW video for “The Great Undressing”, a regular middle class woman goes about some weekend activities: shopping, hitting the gym, going swimming, having a party and grabbing some late night snacks. The only thing that’s different is that she’s naked the whole time. As director Marie Kristiansen said in a statement accompanying the video, “From an intellectual point of view I was intrigued by what would happen if you watched a naked woman totally ignorant about her own nudity going about a normal day. Would she be perceived as a sexual object? Or would her nakedness and femininity become something ordinary and natural?”

YOUNG THUG – “WYCLEF JEAN”

Young Thug’s “Wyclef Jean” video starts with a written message from its co-director Ryan Staake explaining the concept of the clip you’re about to watch. Over the next five minutes you see women driving kiddy cars, kids driving adult cars, kids dressed as cops, dodgy references to Requiem For A Dream, and far more. What you don’t see is Young Thug: the rapper never actually turned up for the shoot. Still, Staake makes the most out of a bad situation, turning what could have been an unmitigated disaster into one of the most inventive music videos we’ve seen in a long time. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s almost as if the ‘deconstructed rap video’ angle was planned all along – although Staake, to his credit, seems genuine in an interview with The FADER published not long after the video’s release.