Let’s face it: Rap videos can be like Mad Libs. Fill in the blanks with [expensive] car, exotic destination, liquor brand, nightclub of choice, some homeys. Compile. Complete. Not this year’s batch of MTV VMA nominees for Best Hip-Hop Video though.
What’s amazing about the 2014 crop is that each took a different approach to making a music video. Stylistically, visually, length-wise, even in the way that the clips engage with the viewer — every video stands on its own.
There may be only one winner, but there will be no losers in this category on Sunday, August 24. Here’s why.
Kanye West “Black Skinhead”
Release Date: July 21, 2013
The “Skinhead” vid is as aggressive as the song itself, featuring a CGI version of the rap star, shirtless, gyrating on screen throughout, with occasional cuts to shots of ferocious-looking dobermans. Fitting, since there’s no doubt that ’Ye’s a beast.
Release Date: September 9, 2013
And that’s exactly what he did both sonically, on the Rick Rubin-produced joint, and visually, with the accompanying Syndrome-directed video. There’s a Beatie Boys vibe throughout, as well as appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Slaughterhouse, Kid Rock, Yelawolf, Rubin and more. Shot in Brooklyn, the grainy-yet-colorful video was the first of many elements that made fans go berserk for his eighth solo disc.
Drake “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
Release Date: September 24, 2013
The Toronto rapper added that he “based it off of some of the old Michael Jackson videos like ‘Moonwalker,’ so it’s sort of exciting, violent a little and scary a little, but it’s great.” And it was great. The “Scarface”-inspired, seven-minute clip (there’s not even music for the first three) is set in 1985 Miami, and also features a cameo from A$AP Rocky. Maybe we’ll catch you at the Movie Awards next year, Drake?
Childish Gambino “3005”
Release Date: December 6, 2013
In the clip, Donald takes fans — and a teddy bear — on a lengthy ferris wheel ride, as the camera focuses in on the rapper’s face for each of his two verses and reverses angles for some unsteady bobbing during the hook. Without ever looking at the camera, the 30-year-old captures the viewers’ attention throughout, as he rhymes his verses with a calm nonchalance rarely seen in rap videos.
Wiz Khalifa “We Dem Boyz”
Release Date: April 14, 2014