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A Fresh Perspective: 9 Uniquely South African Music Videos

By now it’s no secret that South Africa (and the African continent on the whole) is a major creative force to be reckoned with, bursting with exciting young artists whose work is drawing eyes locally and abroad. Unfortunately, though, much is still left to proven formulas fed to us from a ‘first world’ that for so long we thought was better than what we had to offer back home – and that we still so often find ourselves subscribed to.  

When it comes to the art of music videos, it’s perhaps much easier to make the visual equivalent of rapping in an American accent than it is to make something of our own, but more and more of the work we’re seeing emerge is quintessentially South African and tells stories that are diverse and unique to our country. And where cues are taken, they’re mixed up with a local flavour.  

This is true of many of the music videos that have been released over the past year and it speaks of a newly found self-esteem. Instead of latching onto international trends, filmmakers (often following in the steps of the musicians they’re making visuals for) are starting to find and embrace their own styles, inserting a local experience and perspective into their work. This transition, from being fed culture to actually creating culture and finding pride in what South Africa has to offer – from locations, to dance styles, to dialect – is one we’re very happy to see and we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate it.  

Nozinja ‘Tsekeleke’ 

In a fascinating (and somewhat disorienting) combination of computer generated imagery and real life footage, people’s faces are replaced with white noise and an empty lot is rendered full of glitches. Throw in some crazy good dancing from Nozinja and crew, colourful getups and a good dash of the bizarre and you’ve got the infectious music video for ‘Tsekeleke’ directed by Chris Saunders.  

Dope Saint Jude ‘Keep In Touch’ feat. Angel Ho

From the opening shot of the “ticky-box” and the passing taxi with the “gatjie” shouting Cape Town, the music video directed by Chris Kets for Dope Saint Jude‘s ‘Keep In Touch’ feat. Angel Ho is filled with references of Cape coloured identity and the cultural dynamics surrounding race and gender. Local dialect, particularly Cape-slang and ‘Gayle’ (a language spoken mostly by gay males), feature prominently in the lyrics as well. The dominant phrase ‘Keep In Touch’ is one she hopes to add to the ever-growing queer lexicon which, according to Saint Jude, means “NANCY. Nanzukz. Nanzubu. Go away. Eff off.” Basically, she elaborates, “If you don’t fux with us, you can keep in touch!”  

DOODVENOOTSKAP ‘Protein Shake’

It was just another day in Steenberg, Lavender Hill when a Cape Town hip-hop collective danced in front of a makeshift green screen in someone’s backyard. Filmmaker Jenna Bass was there to catch it all on camera, directing the action alongside animator Sebastian Borckenhagen who then edited in a continuous string of bizarro stock photos behind the crew. All of this, and now we have DOODVENOOTSKAP’s new music video for ‘Protein Shake’ – a wild, hilarious extravaganza that makes more sense the less you try to understand it.  

Skrillex ‘Ragga Bomb’

We don’t need a current view count of over 80 million on Youtube or multiple awards to know that the Terence Neale directed music video for Skrillex‘s ‘Ragga Bomb’ is a winner, although it certainly doesn’t hurt either. Shot in a post-apocalyptic Johannesburg and Alexandra, the video features rival scavenger street crews in a burning city where fierce dance groups are preparing for an upcoming showdown. The feuding gangs eventually meet for an epic light sabre battle cheerleaded by drum majorettes and glow-in-the-dark mouthed dancers.  

Riky Rick ‘Boss Zonke’

Riky Rick‘s ‘Boss Zonke’ music video features the Boyznbucks crew in their neighbourhoods across Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Director/producer duo Adriaan Louw and Imran Hamdulay employed a documentary approach for the video to capture a series of (mostly) spontaneous events across the country, with Deon van Zyl‘s slick camera work bringing the whole thing together.  

Zaki Ibrahim ‘Draw The Line’

Growing up as what she describes as a citizen of the world, singer-songwriter Zaki Ibrahim spent her childhood living at different times in Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France and Lebanon. The music video for the track ‘Draw The Line’ off her Every Opposite album was shot in her current home of Cape Town. “The draw the line story does show me, but not exactly,” she says. “Coming from the Cape Flats and overcoming an environment with challenges such as poverty, drugs, sexual assault, and Post-Apartheid conditioning is no easy feat. Creating your own path and shining your light through adversity, taking everything that you’ve experienced and everything you are, is what the song is about.”

Haezer ‘Minted’

A crazy Afro-punk character named Hero and a voodoo sorcerer called The Rat Catcher work together as African superheroes, fighting for the oppressed and marginalized in the music video for Haezer‘s track ‘Minted’. Shot by Wim Steytler in hijacked and abandoned buildings in the Johannesburg CBD, the underlying concept remarks on the Xenophobia that is still rife in the area – specifically amongst Somalian expats. Deliberately not taking a documentary angle but rather, choosing to intervene and set up moments, the video takes on a surreal or magic realist slant.  

Fantasma ‘Cat and Mouse’ feat. Mim Suleiman

Thlonepho Thobejane directed a vibrant expression of South African youth in Fantasma‘s music video for ‘Cat and Mouse’ feat. Mim Suleiman. Following a group of young ballet dancers as they make their way through the township of Khayelitsha, the video draws inspiration from Spoek Mathambo’s personal history; his mother is on the board of a Johannesburg-based dance company that has been going since the height of unrest in SA in the 70s. “I’ve seen how modern dance and ballet has offered kids from townships another reality,” said the band’s frontman.  

Boolz ‘Aphe Kapa’

Boolz’s song titled ‘Aphe Kapa’, which translates to “Here in Cape Town”, celebrates exciting things that young Capetonians are creating and keeping busy with. Directed by Batandwa Alperstein in Langa where Boolz grew up, the video showcases a great variety of local creativity including performance artist Jana ‘Babez’ Terblanché, graffiti work by Skhumablisto and custom bicycles by Zahier Davids of Flywheel Custom Chariot. “Langa has never had a hip hop music video shot there and there’s so much to be celebrated,” says Batandwa. He explains that with this song and the new music video, they wanted to show that “Aphe Kapa (Here in Cape Town) the youth are flexing as hard as other parts of the country.”



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