It seems there have been fewer music videos from local and local artists this year, possibly due to the pandemic, but the ones that came out were excellent, and many of them were extremely intense. It’s OK. It’s been a good year for music to reflect some of the strong emotions most of us feel these days. It was hard to limit myself to just 10 favorites, but these are the ones that marked me the longest.
To note: Some of these videos contain adult language and images.
“Mysterious Girl”, by K’Nen and Jafet Muzic: “Mysterious Maiden” was the first offering from collaborative hip-hop ensemble, Stanton Capitol Records, which focuses on K’Nen, Jafet Muzic and Danny Fantom. Here, K’Nen and Jafet deliver a love letter to hip-hop, and the parts of the music they think are about to be lost. The video itself captures images of the performers and their friends that appear cheerful on the surface, but there is something about the shooting of the black and white video that casts a shadow over the music, emphasizing lyrics such as: “It’s my soul that we used to play tip-top numbers until dawn / Yeah baby I’m gone. The feeling of something fading from memory is palpable.
“Escape” by Ralph Weah “: Worcester-born hip-hop artist Ralph Weah manages to capture and intensify the warmth of his song “Run Away” with this brilliantly lit video. It’s a song that captures the push and pull of a disintegrating video, brought to life by sizzling visuals that contrast the character’s distress with images of what are clearly pleasant memories at first. It’s a beautifully shot video, which makes the broken heart at the heart of the song a little more painful.
“Not like the other girls”, by Zola Simone: 18-year-old rising Boston-area star Zola Simone completely crushed it with her debut album, “Now You See Me,” and many of the qualities that make her so magnetic can be found in this video: A youngster with a pop sensibility, a sense of honesty in music that leaves her open to the listener and a biting mind: “She reeked of the privilege and the scent of Urban Outfitterâ¦ you’re not like other girls / you are worse. The video showcases these qualities well and gives the listener a taste of what makes this young artist so exciting.
“My baby”, by Abbie Cotto: The video begins with an absolutely hilarious skit of the Worcester R&B singer arrested hitting a woman in an elevator (note: don’t do this in real life), before moving on to more raunchy – honestly, just that side of the explicit – action. Cotto comes out with immense charisma and a sizzling voice, and while the steam can be a bit of the workplace, there’s no denying that Cotto manages to create a sizzle like few others.
“She’s out”, by Gene Dante: With the music video âShe’s Outsideâ – really, with his whole album, âDL / UXâ – Dante proves that there is still life in the glam rock sound. It’s an exhilarating song, which stacks riff after riff. The video takes this energy and illuminates it with a psychedelic light. In many ways it’s a pretty straightforward video, just the band playing and close-ups of Dante singing, but there’s something about it that takes the hooks out of the song and pushes them into overdrive.
“Papi”, by Louie Gonz with M. Pacheco: Honestly? This video is downright wild, layering the faces of local rappers Louie Gonz and Mr. Pacheco riding dinosaurs, operated by aliens, transformed into spider-like robots and more. The song itself benefits from Gonz’s ability to work in layers: on the one hand, it’s an unrepentant party song, a bit dirty but with unmistakable rhythm. On the other hand, there is a sadness there, as the character struggles with an inability to settle down, about choosing a career in music above all else. It can be enjoyed as hard-core hip-hip pop, but honestly, once you’ve got Gonz on a velociraptor, it’s hard not to be hooked on video.
“LeBron”, by Oompa: “You do what you can / I do what I want,” raps Boston hip-hop artist Oompa in the music video for his song “LeBron”. Every inch of the song radiates swagger, and the video takes that vibe and amplifies it, especially with shots of the rapper playing basketball. It all feels relaxed, and there’s something about that light hand that just brings the song’s sense of confidence to the fore. The video, song, and artist all seem effortlessly cool, and let’s be honest, that’s not something a lot of music videos manage to pull off.
“I sing the electric body”, by Sapling: This song was a B-side of the 7 “single from Sapling’s song,” Maria Vs. Machine Maria “, which maybe makes it an odd choice for a video, but then Sapling doesn’t always make artistic decisions predictable. The video itself is an extremely eclectic array of video footage from the group – sometimes playing, sometimes preparing other clips, sometimes miming in front of the mirror or cooking. The clips are interspersed with images of old black and white cartoons and, when set to discord from the song’s growing cacophony, can create an unsettling experience.
“Legend of the Fall”, by Slaine: Boston rapper Slaine’s 2021 album “The Things We Can’t Forgive” is an intense experience, overwhelming at times, and there are many reasons for that intensity to be found in this video. “Legend of the Fall” finds Slaine facing him across the table in a restaurant. “Of everyone, you were the one I hated the most,” Slaine raps, pointing the verse to himself. “A grown man (expletive) who is afraid of ghosts.” The song is relentless until the end, when the tone changes slightly: too much. âAt the end of the day, it’s less a song about grievances and guilt, and more about healing and advancement. emotionally brutal and still extremely moving.
“She closed her eyes”, by Ricky Duran: This song by local favorite Ricky Duran is a serious and touching portrayal of grief, written in the wake of his mother’s death in 2018. It’s a simple video in many ways, but it both conveys the sense of loss and acceptance of the song. There is a feeling of intimacy in the video, the feeling that it is a conversation between the singer and the listener, and that feeling of intimacy is what drives the emotional content of the song. It’s an honest, sweet and sad little song, but it resonates awfully deep.