With so much music being released our attention is always being diverted to what's 'next', visuals have always been that middle ground where us as fans can have something to wait for - growing up I stayed watching MTV Base, on the look out for that new new. Recently we've seen a new wave of artists that have been producing videos resemblant of short films, it's refreshing, however, cinematic visuals aren't anything new - especially in Hip-Hop. In the 90's we saw the likes of Tupac, Missy Elliot and Puff Daddy bring something new to the genre. When Hip-Hop began to reach a sizeable platform and audience, many artists released visuals worth looking out for - remember YouTube didn't drop till '05 - some notable examples being "Missy Elliot - Beep Me 911", "Snoop Dogg - Murder Was The Case" and "Busta Rhymes - Dangerous". With annual award shows like MTV's Video Music Awards (VMAs), the importance on the visuals that accompanied an artists work has consistently increased. There's been a resurgence in the popularity of cinematic music videos amongst prominent artists especially as of recent. We're going to mention some of the artists that have caught our eyes.
Recently, we’ve seen Kendrick Lamar release multiple cinematic visuals over his career from "Alright" and "God Is Gangsta" to older visuals such as "Ignorance is Bliss" - from one of his earlier projects "Overly Dedicated". In some cases, with 'conscious' rappers like Kendrick, the visuals that accompany a track are made to either heighten or provide a visual representation of the message embedded in the art. Other times, it's just a video. Watch Kendrick’s visual for "These Walls" - a favourite from the Compton artist. He's also got some hilarious cameos from Terry Cruz and Cory Holcomb.
Artists have been pushing the boundaries with their visuals for a while now and Tyler, the Creator happens to be one who enjoys pushing those boundaries in both his music and videos. Tyler came up in the new generation of artists with a 'D.I.Y' mindset - they practically do everything for themselves such as, directing, photography, producing etc. Take Kali Uchis for instance who directed her own visual for "Only Girl". A quintessential Odd Future visual - an oxymoron in itself, "Sam Is Dead" creates no illusion in that it tries to be as cinematic as possible by spoofing Vietnam War films, we're also given comedic skits and end credits to close off the piece - this ones a film for sure. "Sam Is Dead" is undeniably one of Tyler's best pieces of work, the direction, the edits, even down to the sets, you can tell a lot of work went into this one, watch it below:
As an artist you want to create an immersive feeling for your viewers, you want to take them into another reality. This is something that Travi$ Scott continues to achieve. Scott's "Upper Echelon" pulls you into the realms of his imagination buried deep in darkest corners of an unknown forrest. These visuals match the track well giving you a feel of demonic surrealism laced with an aggressive Hip-Hop backdrop. Some of these extras still don't make much sense but it's not my imagination so...
Many visuals we see today draw inspiration from films, whilst some pay homage to the greats like "Scarface" - Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home". Others provide us with reimagining and a video that embodies this well is A$AP Rocky's experimentation with imagery, L$D. In an interview with TIME Magazine Rocky stated that he was inspired by Gaspar Noé’s 2009 psychedelic film "Enter The Void". A$AP wanted his fans and viewers to experience "drugs through music" - you're taken on a trip, that's for sure. Another video inspired by the events of a high is Miguel's "Waves". For now, experience Rocky's L$D trip below:
More vivid aesthetics are one of the main aspects of cinematic visuals, a feature that your average video lacks. This can allow the artist to convey a more detailed visual experience, keeping us engaged throughout. Although we've mainly focused on Hip-Hop, Riri's 'BBHMM' blurs the lines between R&B and Trap, and with visuals this wavy, how could we leave it out. The endless cult-classic film references alone puts Rihanna in my good books. FYI: I'm a big Quentin Tarantino fan, I've seen every film! - so the Kill Bill inspiration is a plus. After watching this one I've concluded that getting on the wrong side of BadGal Riri is something you may want to avoid! Peep the gory centric, what should be a cult-classic mini-movie below:
Some visuals are purely for our entertainment. Recently Drake dropped the visual for one of my album favs, "Childs Play" and had us all laughing while he got smothered in cheesecake. Videos like this, especially when dropped sometime after the song itself, allow us to relive our love for the track with new insight. I know for sure that this video had me wanting to hit the strip club with Drizzy - that's what it's good for - these videos convey a lifestyle that walks hand in hand with the soundtrack.
As a whole, the cinematic extended visual is one I'll always be keen on. It demonstrates an artists creative capabilities by merging various avenues of creative magic into one big movie ball - getting the music across in the most accurate way according to artists intention. It's more than just sound, it becomes something we see and feel. I know for sure that there's been videos that have made me love a song that I didn't have much of an opinion on beforehand, so the importance of a great visual is pretty clear. Musicians don't just want Grammys these days, they're coming for the Oscars too!