Our pick of the month’s must-see music visuals, from Jay-Z’s subversion of racist cartoons to Little Dragon’s insight into queer South Africa
This month has given us Hercules & Love Affair’s occultish clip for “Omnion” and Kesha’s triumphant comeback video “Praying”. As ever, we’ve rounded up five music videos that stuck out to us the most this month, from Danny Brown’s paranoid trapping to an exploration of queerness in South Africa.
DANNY BROWN – “LOST”
The video for Danny Brown’s “Lost”, which appeared on last year’s Atrocity Exhibition, matches the claustrophobic of the Detroit rapper’s terse track. The black-and-white, Matilda Finn-directed clip is shot almost entirely from waist height and tracks through a crowded trap house. Things get increasingly twisted throughout the course of the video as people throw up and paranoia mounts. Glamorous it ain’t.
JAPANESE BREAKFAST – “ROAD HEAD”
In the video for Japanese Breakfast’s “Road Head”, the lush guitar pop project’s Michelle Zauner goes on a midnight ride with some kind of weird skeleton demon monster… thing. Directed by Zauner with Adam Kolodny, the video was apparently inspired by the vibe of Twin Peaks and Fallen Angels. Though it starts off with the musician and the monster hanging out and smoking together, it ends with Zauner shooting the creature dead and burning his body in the woods. We say ‘his’ – it’s sort of hard to tell what sex it is, but you can assume the figure is meant to represent the undead relationship that Zauner explores in the song’s lyrics.
JAY-Z – “THE STORY OF OJ”
Jay-Z’s “The Story of OJ” video, co-directed by Jay-Z and Mark Romanek with animation by The Mill with Titmouse, is littered with references to racist cartoons. It adopts Fleischer Studios-style animation to call back to early 20th century animations such as the infamous ‘Censored Eleven’ group of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, or the flagrantly offensive Scrub Me Mama With A Boogie Beat. The effect is not too dissimilar to the heartbreaking blackface montage from Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.
KOJEY RADICAL – “AFTER WINTER”
In the video for “AFTER WINTER”, UK spoken word artist and rapper Kojey Radical stages a #BBHMM-style home invasion on a luxury London flat. Like previous Kojey’s previous video for “Gallons”, “AFTER WINTER” comes directed by The Rest and uses a dystopian, brutalist-punk aesthetic to explore its themes of classism and gentrification. “To me, ‘AFTER WINTER’ is a snapshot of the emotions of a young person of color growing up in a space where they feel like the other, and giving it a soundtrack of empowerment,” Kojey explained to The FADER.
LITTLE DRAGON – “STROBE LIGHT”
Little Dragon’s “Strobe Light” video heads to the South African streets. Directed by Johannesburg-based photographer (and Dazed 100-er) Kristin-Lee Moolman with stylist and frequent collaborator Ib Kamara, the video is a beautiful, sun-dappled shoot celebrating gender nonconformists breaking taboos in Johannesburg. “We wanted to make a film that celebrates two dancers from Johannesburg and that feeling of being young and creating your own universe within your environment and being able to express yourself in any shape or form,” Moolman and Kamara said in a joint statement accompanying the video.