Melina Matsoukas has been a Tastemaker! It ain't nothing new. Since 2006 she's been creating music videos that we adore for some of the industries biggest names and has filmed commercials for the likes of Adidas, Lexus and Diesel as well as her own HBO series "Insecure". However, behind the lens there isn't a lot of chances to be put in the spotlight, so I wanted to make sure we did just that by focusing on her music video collabs, because Melina's work over the past 10 years has progressively gotten bigger and better and has impacted music culture in ways we've not even noticed - so knowing her name is a must. She grew up in the Bronx and is another creative that New York's Tisch school of the Arts can add to their roster - graduating in Cinematography, with her final thesis being on Music Videos, so lets just says she's a bit of an expert.
Strangely in the world of directors, women are not often seen, Melina said herself (while speaking with Lenny Letter) "It's so insane how few female directors there are. And then female women of color directors as well. It's not a dying breed ... maybe a growing breed" and she's definitely setting the bar for more women to enter the scene. On her large list of artist friends who she's directed music videos for, you can name Rihanna, Pharrell, Beyoncé, Ciara, Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg and her close friend Solange Knowles... It goes on! her early work consists of videos such as "Money Maker" with Ludacris and Pharrel, which still bangs today! The shots include a lot of vivid colour that Melina is known for in her work. Take a look at the video from 2006 and shake a lil.
Later collaborations such as Snoop Dogg's "Sensual Seduction" and Solange Knowles' "Loosing you" also stand out to me when thinking about her work. Both videos despite being very different, give me a sense of nostalgia, in some ways more obvious that others, but it is often the focus of her sense or the docu-style sense of footage that makes them special, which Medina uses a lot in many of he projects. Her taste of artistic direction always makes the footage seem authentic. Watch both visuals below.
I would argue that Melina has been a pivotal aspect of Beyoncé's empire, directing some of her most impactful music videos and projects. Back in 2007 in the early days of her career she worked on a whole bunch of our fav Beyoncé vids, such as "Green Light", "Suga Mama" and "Upgrade You", so her vision has been a huge part of Beyoncé's artist direction from the early days of her solo career - we need to give props to a woman who has contributed to the art and power of an artists as big as Queen B. In more recent times, we can thank Melina for Beyoncé's "Why Don't You Love Me" video which is one of my personal favourites and visually uses an incredible amount of detail, such as soft frameworks, themed settings, documentary style hidden shots and movement edits that create a thematic, 50's house-wife, mini movie of sassy heartbreak.
So now for the big one, the 2016 release of Beyoncé's "Formation" caused a whole load of uproar simply for its Black pride and behind the songs visual, which stood against Police brutality, shed light on the New Orleans floodings and provided a platform for black girl magic galore, we can thank Ms Matsoukas, as she Directed the epic visual. The video ties in a lot of her signature staples of being "chock full of bright colours or crisp black and white images, smooth spotlights, [...] tasteful retro" , so for the sake of appreciation, watch the "Formation" video one more time below cuz whats not to love.
If it seems like Melina has put in work, that is an understatement, because there are countless projects that I have not mentioned like her Grammy award winning "We found Love" video for our favourite BadGal RiRi, which in my eyes was a perfect generational depiction of heart ache and angst, especially for those growing up in the UK and she was the first ever solo female director to win this award! Yaas girl. She also put together the beautifully simple visual that marked Whitney Houston's 2009 return with "I Look To You". As you may be able to tell, I am in awe of Melina's work and she is a woman who is incredibly deserving of the Tastemaker title, with true artistic vision. I want you to really understand the extent of her work!