Gone are the days of rap videos being confined to just big booties and chains. While many videos still portray a braggadocious lifestyle and are successful with that approach, thoughtfully original visuals with a noticeable purpose seem to be taking the main stage as of late. From political statements to paying homage to their home, rappers are really pushing themselves to create striking visuals. Rap fans have always loved a good Easter egg, and I must admit that rappers are finally bringing the element of surprise to their visuals.
Now, this is not to say that there haven’t been great rap music videos in the past, but today’s artists are really taking it to another level. Their visuals don’t just stop at their music videos. Between merch, festivals, and their social media accounts, rappers are really taking time to consider the breadth of their platform and impart their creativity wherever possible.
One of the best examples of this inextinguishable creativity is Travis Scott. While he is not my favorite musician ever, I have so much respect for his creativity and attention to detail, especially after attending his Astroworld Festival. It was evident that Travis Scott spent much time making sure every element of the festival was perfect, and you could see his influence everywhere. Travis Scott has let Astroworld permeate every aspect of his life, including his daughter’s first birthday. He really took advantage of his influential position and put creativity and originality into every possible aspect of his life. On top of that, the visuals are really impressive and unlike anything I’ve seen before. He captures a lot of the spirit of Houston while still making it feel surreal, much like AstroWorld the theme park.
It’s easy to say that Mac Miller was and continues to be a huge influence on a large chunk of the world, even after his untimely death. Therefore, the irony of the “Self Care” video hurts so much. Mac Miller literally brings himself out of being buried alive after carving “Memento Mori” into his casket and subsequently survives an explosion. Less than two months later, Mac Miller died due to an accidental overdose. Mac Miller was very open about his struggles with depression and substance addiction throughout his life and it resonated deeply with a large chunk of his fan base. Mac Miller used his platform to share his struggles and make others feel heard. There is no way he could have predicted the irony of this video, but the intent behind it is overwhelming.
I have always been entranced by A$AP Rocky visuals. However, I know that every visual he puts out is even better than the last. A$AP Rocky is another great example of someone who really lets their album take over their whole life. I mean, how many times have we seen that Testing logo? Like, literally a million. His visuals are euphoric and hypnotic, but always a little bit different. My favorite by far is the “Kids Turned Out Fine” video. A$AP uses his visuals and popularity to showcase the beauty of diversity.
J.I.D. is notorious for a great visual, but the video for “Off Da Zoinkys” really did it for me. From the copious Easter eggs to Ansel Elgort to the reenactment of the intro of The Long Goodbye, my eyes stay glued to the screen every time I watch it. In the same way that DiCaprio 2 has a passionate drive to it, this video is filled with energy and movement.
There are so many other great rap visuals out there that aren’t getting as much of the spotlight as they should. While rappers don’t typically promote their videos as much as the release of their album, visuals are a great way to get a better understanding of what the artist is trying to express in their music. With that being said, I am so excited to see where and how rap visuals progress.