Yung Lean first linked up with the London-based photographer and filmmaker Aidan Zamiri on the video for his first Stardust single, “Bliss”, featuring FKA twigs. “That was an absolute dream come true,” Zamiri tells Dazed. “Lean and I felt really synced up creatively.” The Swedish rapper obviously felt the same way, since he’s now called on Zamiri to direct the official video for his Bladee collab, “Victorious”.
“Victorious” is one half of a new, two-sided single from the longtime collaborators. In contrast to the poppy synths of B-side “Bullets”, the song sees the vocalists trade rap verses over a melancholic piano melody, ethereal vocals, and lo-fi beats, courtesy of Drain Gang producer Whitearmor. “We’ve never really heard Lean and Bladee rap like this on a track before,” says Zamiri. “It felt really fresh, an important new chapter in their careers, so we wanted to make something that felt poignant and classic.”
The resulting black-and-white video is stark and stripped-back, flitting between closeups of the duo and an assortment of symbolic objects. These range from classic hip-hop tropes (see: the Rolls-Royce covered in rose petals, a nod to Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot”) to more arcane items: a pair of swords, an iron gate, a scorpion poised like a crown on Lean’s head.
“It’s a dream to work with these boys,” Zamiri adds. “They’re really clear and specific about what they like and what they want to say with their visuals. They’re also extremely trusting. We talked a lot about how we wanted the video to feel and look and what the boys were gonna wear. Together, we figured out what symbols and objects were important to the story.”
In behind-the-scenes images captured by Floki Molina, we get to look deeper into this muddy, scorpion-filled process, which brought Zamiri closer to two of his artistic heroes, both of whom had a formative influence on his unique artistry. “It’s mad to work with people who have made such an impact on you artistically,” he reflects. “I think when you’re a genuine fan of the people you’re working with, you understand the context and what this specific moment means within the landscape of their career. My advice: meet your heroes.”
Take a look behind the scenes of Yung Lean and Bladee’s “Victorious” shoot in the gallery above, and revisit the music video below.