Are Music Videos Important for an Artist’s Creative Process?

It’s probably not a secret that I love French Montana’s latest mainstream track, ‘Unforgettable’. It’s easily the song of the summer in my opinion, but the music video has absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics on Swae Lee and Montana. While the song is about meeting a girl at a club (whilst drunk), the music video features children from Uganda dancing, and French holding a toddler laughing and having a fun time. The video helped kick off an initiative to support maternity centers throughout the country, (to donate, click here or upload a video of yourself dancing using the hashtag #Unforgettable).

Story | Sara Loretta

Image | Vevo

But recently this video got me thinking, are visual aids important for a rapper’s credibility? It seems all too often that rap videos include thick women, who are also basically naked; stacks of money; the rapper performing in front of a crowd or more creatively an artistic video to help tell the story of the song.

For instance, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Humble’ encompasses most of everything I just listed and of course a little more because, well it’s K-Dot. As the video begins, we are quickly reminded that this is Lamar’s World and we are just living in it, as he preaches to us in papal robes, sits in Jesus Christ’s seat during the recreation of the Last Supper and then Godfather inspired as he is in all white and surrounded by his “mafia men”.

If we take a look at Isaiah Rashad’s track, ‘4r Da Squaw’, the music video is like an abstract art piece. By taking a quick glance, a viewer could easily understand that the world revolves around money (as each person is labeled with their bank account amounts above their heads) and of course the stress that comes with being an adult. As you can see the young boy in the video is just happy, sure he has $2.00, but as Rashard sings “you’re only fear is growing up” – which this single line compliments the entire video because we see Isaiah stressed about supporting his child due to his $0.00 red standing.

Now, while Migos has become a household name (no thanks to Katy Perry), their videos are um, boogie and outrageous. But could you expect anything less from a group whose first song was titled ‘Versace’? In the particular video below, the Migos men spend over 4 minutes flashing diamond necklaces and rings, WHILE riding horses in the desert and wearing overly tailored plaid suits. “I ain’t here to take no pictures” but why are you wearing what you…agh. You see my point.

And lastly to present my article, let’s take a step back a few years to remember this gem. Akon’s ‘Smack That’, because who wouldn’t want 24-hour temporary release to look for a girl to jump in his lambo. The video is a dark dance hit of Akon looking for a specific stripper for a cop, why? Well it’s Konvict of course – but enter Slim Shady, the video is put into slow motion to perhaps compliment his half-hearted feature where Eminem tries to “hold his woody through [his] drawers”. This is a song that I will without hesitation say I still have come up on shuffle, but we didn’t need a music video.

I am not saying that music videos are not a defining point of the music industry, after all video did kill the radio star back in the 80s. However, how important are videos to promote songs now? In a world now full of Soundcloud and Spotify, is Youtube replacing MTV or being replaced by a more technologically-advanced radio? I don’t think so.

I believe that music videos are just another aspect of an artist’s creativity (if they are producing the content themselves) and can be beneficial to causes (like Unforgettable) or continue to build a rapper’s cred because we can “see” them with a squad or on the streets of their city, like Bone Thug’s ‘I Tried’, where the Bone men stand on Cleveland street corners and rap about the misery of 1. Being in miserable Cleveland and 2. The struggles of being a “poor black man” and unfortunately being wrongfully accused of robbery.

What’s your favorite music video? Tweet me @sara_loretta and let me know.

Writer & Visual Storyteller | I think mumble rap is like disco, a bad phase.

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