It’s still black history month and I wanted to take time this week to highlight more black creativity. Something I feel has become a lost art over the years is music videos; videos used to be creative pieces that would add to the experience of listening to a song. “The Rain” by Missy Elliott, is a perfect example of how a music video can take a poetic composition to another level. Though it’s not always the case now, there’s still quite a few artists and directors that really get to it. Here’s a small list of music videos from some of those individuals that showcase and celebrate different aspects of being black.
Dave – Black
Directed by Nathan James Tettey and Edem Wornoo
This is one of those videos that I’ve championed ever since I first saw it. The lyrics hit you on a whole other level but that’s another conversation. What I love about the video is that regardless of how the lyrics of the song make you feel, the video embraces being black in so many forms. Black men and women of different shades, with different hairstyles, from different countries all coming together. The video is filmed in the UK but it’s something you can still feel on this side of the Atlantic. All of it is was black and all of it was beautiful.
Janelle Monae – Crazy, Classic, Life
Directed by Alan Ferguson
“The most neglected person in America is the Black woman” – Malcolm X
I think Janelle Monáe kept that in mind and decided she’d make a music video that highlighted black women throughout. Black women with different hairstyles in punk rock/alternative fits to match. I might not have grown up around a ton of them that dress like that, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist and don’t deserve their shine.
Janelle Monáe music videos are always visually dope. Whichever teams she works with for her videos does a great job. Am I going to sit here and tell you that I have an incredibly artistic viewpoint on this video? Nah, if I’m be honest, I don’t understand all of it. What I can say though is I did enjoy how the video is inclusive for people regardless of who they are. There’s groups of people from different backgrounds, those that are fluid, those that aren’t. It emphasized that everyone can be included in what we call “the American Dream”.
Knucks ft. Loyle – Standout
Directed by Dir. Lx
Back to the UK for another video. I’ve been saying this for a few years now, but the UK’s got some real talent that we’re just now paying attention to on a global scale. This Knucks video is a testament to that. I enjoy everything about the cinematography in this video. The way they shot the profiles of so many different black people was beautiful. The shots really highlight the beauty of black skin, regardless of it’s skin tone.
Solange – Almeda
Directed by Solange
This video is just aesthetically appealing. Everything about it is black. Black people, black hair, black body types, black fits, black backgrounds. This has gotta be what inspired Nas to write “Ultra Black”…can’t confirm that at all, but I can say that this video looks incredible and found a way to celebrate black people and their creativity.
Kendrick Lamar – Humble
Directed by Dave Meyers & the little homies
This is probably the one video most people expected to make the list and for good reason. It’s not only shot well but carries a lot of symbolism between Kendrick being a saint and a sinner. One minute he’s at the table with the homies at “the last supper”, the next he’s on a table with two women printing money. There’s a duality there that’s interesting to watch.
I also appreciated the part in the video around photoshop and how he has the the black woman’s portrayal with and without the filters. Or showing a woman’s backside with stretch marks. The idea isn’t to highlight sexuality but that we should embrace our skin and our bodies regardless of our “imperfections”.
Normani – Motivation
Directed by Dave Myers and Daniel Russell
Let me start off by saying Normani killed this thing. I can’t dance but the choreography looked great to me. She also looks great (just thought I’d sneak that in there).
Anyways, this video feels like a celebration of late 90s/early 2000s black culture. Retro jays, Timbs, 106 & Park. That’s a whole vibe right there and it’s the era I grew up in. 106 & Park used to be what a lot of people would consider a haven for black music videos and I appreciate her tipping her hat off to the show. There’s always several other points in the video where she pays homage to various pop and R&B artists from the early 2000s. Doesn’t get old, no matter how many times I’ve watched it.