Visuals interpret a song, bringing it to life in ways that the audio experience alone cannot quite manage. We present to you 10 of the most striking we saw this year. From bottom to top.
10. Hottest Thing – Squeeze Tarela
One of the breakout acts of the year, Squeeze Tarela keeps it simple yet fresh with the video to his catchy tune, Hottest Thing. Set in an urban neighbourhood, the visuals recall summer days and all things bright and beautiful. Hottest Thing is directed by Ovie Etseyatse and works as the perfect medium to announce a major talent.
9. Cooking Pot – Orezi
One of the biggest trends in contemporary music during the year was the appropriation of Fela’s sound, image and likeness. Orezi’s Cooking Pot is a brazen, colorful attempt at both copying the legend’s style and paying homage. It has to be said that he pulls it off credibly. There is really nothing new to see but one of the weirdest joys is to witness younger acts get in touch with their fore bearers.
8. Work – Milli
Milli goes full on pop star, by way of Chris Brown in the video for Work, a futuristic sounding banger that also borrows heavily from the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Featuring impressively choreographed dance scenes and a chase sequence at night, Work ends with a twist in the tale setting the stage for a potential sequel.
7. Smile for Me – Simi
Young love never played as fresh and as endearing as it is presented in this delightful charmer about a lady who is being wooed in simple but thoughtful ways by the love of her life. Clarence Peters shot it and some of the angles he chooses to set up from are weird. But Simi’s lovably awkward personality falls in rhythm with the story that he chooses to tell. And he tells it well.
6. Uncle Suru – John Ogah ft. Adekunle Gold, Simi
Everybody can relate to a grass to grace story but this video earns a place on this list for taking a banal, overdone concept and finding a way to make it invigorating. Uncle Suru captures succinctly, the struggles of the starving artiste, many of whom never make it into the big leagues. At the end when John Ogah finally gets his dream of working with 2Baba, try holding back the tear or two.
5. Come Closer – Wizkid ft. Drake
The Come Closer video may be absent of Drake but director Daps and Star Boy Wizzy found a way to work around that such that Drake manages to become an afterthought. The images, and moving clips are obviously contemporary but Wizkid finds tiny little ways like costume and makeup to show off his heritage, just to leave no one in doubt as to who the king of this afrobeats wave really is.
4. Omo Kekere – Chyn
The young shall grow is the central theme of Chyn’s Omo Kekere song, a quick footed meditation on growing up that marries his western style of delivery with blended sounds from home. The colourful, striking video presented by A Beautiful Mind pictures is a beauty to behold invoking still images and fluid shots that depict the different, wonderful ways in which the child becomes the father of the man.
3. Industry Nite Refix – Erigga
King of the South Erigga makes creative use of the industry night celebration as ground zero for the life cycle of today’s artiste. There are no happy endings and no offers of false hopes as Erigga plays a young rapper spilling his guts one last time just before confidently marching to his execution. Stark, unflinching and realistic, Industry Nite Refix is simply a window into the mind of the Nigerian musician.
2. Particular – Major Lazer
Technically this video isn’t even Nigerian but with Ice Prince and an increasingly receptive Jidenna starring alongside South Africa’s Nasty C and DJ Maphorisa, who is to say that it isn’t? Shot in Johannesburg, superstar DJ, Major Lazer captures a rough, gritty but beautifully retro piece of the continent that feels peculiar but could easily pose as a stand in for anywhere that is home. Masterfully done.
1. Who – Dremo
The opening scene of Who, in which rapper Dremo literally rises from the dead is proof that the young man isn’t here to play. Shot in grindhouse cinema style with bleached colors and effective special effects, Who unspools as an action film in the style of Tarantino’s Kill Bill and follows Dremo as he exacts his revenge on his enemies. There are Asian translations thrown in for good measure. How cool is that?
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The writer tweets from @drwill20
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.