Everyone likes videos - nearly everyone. Heightened anticipation often greets the hint that the much-awaited video of some hip-hop single has dropped. This is the case with me. It has been this way from all the way back when P-Square, D'banj, Olu Maintain, Tuface Idibia, VIP and Faze held sway on the African hip-hop scene.
Art is a depiction of reality. Art is real. Art is NEVER an illusion.
For P-Square, their videos prided in quality; their costumes set the trends for fashion; their locations captivated. And of course, there was the choreography to look forward to. The duo never disappointed for as far as performances went.
D'banj let me down with the music video of his hit track, 'Why Me'. I looked forward to seeing an enacting of the story as told in the song lyrics. But no. I saw nothing of the sort. And the quality of the video could only be tolerated at the time. D'banj did however pick up with time, and as cinematographic skills improved in the country. His videos continue to stir up anticipations for me - and I think, for a good number too.
When there's news of a new video of Olu Maintain's, my mind stirs up images of glitz and glamour. I can think of no peer music video that equalled the sensation of 'Yahooze'; the assortment of flashy cars, dollar bills raining down, bottles and bottles of champagne, cigar smoke ...... you know, the usual swagger. Perhaps you should dig around for this video.
And then Tuface Idibia. It were the South Africans, I believe, who did a face-lift on what would have been his reputation for making videos that were either stale or outrightly lacking in artistic value. Today, his videos are sensual, just like his lyrics have always been.
Everyone knew Faze. His videos sent ripples sweeping through the music video-loving masses.
'Tatoo Girls', 'Kolo Mental', and 'Need Somebody' ranked amongst the very best in cinematographic skill and artistic value - for me.
In writing this piece, I did not set out on memory lane with an intention to seek out old tastes. Far from it. Instead, I want to point out music video for what it truly is - an art form. Exactly. Just like writing, painting, sculpturing, photography, filming, etc, music video is also an art form. And art has a role for as long as human societies are concerned - civilized or 'uncivilized'.
Over the long periods of man's march to civilization, art has played a very crucial role. Tyranny has been nibbled at with satirical writings. With cartoons have illogical opinions been laid bare and set aright - in some cases. Pottery has borne details of old civilizations across generations. Sculptures have embodied man's beliefs and faiths. Memories, thoughts, visions and happenings have been depicted and conveyed with paintings and sketches.
Songs have served not only to entertain, but as well to guide, protest and encourage; that man might be constantly restrained from the brink of destroying himself and his fellows - even though songs have stirred hearts to war. In relatively recent times, filming has come in handy as a medium for warning societies against impending catastrophes. And it has been used to tackle social issues like racism - not to mention the fact that it is also used to spread political propaganda. A simple photograph can tell as much a story, possibly more than I can achieve with a tonne of scribblings.
Music videos can serve artistic purposes too. In every sense, they should. It should not be all about butt-shaking, weighty glinting chains, champagne, flashy cars and mansions, parties and orgies and all such derogatory behaviour which are constantly barraging the collective mindset to the point that they are becoming acceptable.
Art is NEVER an illusion.
It is nowhere near these shows of idleness and mischievous conducts which today's music videos are trying desperately to enshrine in the fertile minds of the young and naïve.
Art is a depiction of reality. Art is real. And it serves to guide, to correct, and to entertain. It is a watchdog against an overflow of man's banal tendencies. Good a thing it (Art) has taken many forms. And we must never, whether out of exuberance or sheer stupidity, lose a hold on this particular form. Better still, we can continue with this childish play of 'who gets mad better', and allow this cancerous rot eat away into our collective fabric. And if we should wake up one morning to an unbearable stink that has become of us, I think then we can run helter skelter in beating together some antidote - even if it is a short-lived one.
About the author:
Ikenna Chinedu Okeh is a writer based in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. He writes crime fiction and poetry that mirror elements of the contemporary Nigerian society. You can find his novels and anthologies on Amazon, Smashwords or your favorite ebook stores