Best of 2016: Top 10 Videos
Videos are still important. Outside of being a promotional tool, they extend the creativity of the artist to enhance the story they tell through song – or take us down another path we never might have imagined. While there was a dearth of (quality) videos from the rock this year, I managed to squeeze out 10 – some from songs that already made the other best of lists I wrote. Again, these are in no particular order.
1. Stiffy – “Squat”
Crop Over 2015 saw Stiffy move from a peripheral character to one of the scene’s mainstay. “Bus Crawl”, “Maintenance Man,” “Eyelid,” and “Squat” were inescapable, but Starquality didn’t rest on his laurels like most of his contemporaries – he produced videos for almost every song released. And it was never just the de rigeur soca music video. The St. Peter native focused on story-telling for each short, sometimes with varying success. He first dropped the clunky ”Maintenance Man,” the improved “Bus Crawl,” and finally found the right formula with the Marlon Fox-directed “Squat,” released at the top of the year. Kidnapped and held hostage by the “Female Perverts” – once allies, now foes who feel snubbed, probably since Stiffy sanitized most of his act for the soca circuit (“You really feel you could lef’ out the female perverts, though?”) – the Bashment Soca King tries to escape the only way he knows how: distracting them with tunes to “squat” to. Watching a bound up Stiffy slide around in an office chair between some of the best dancers the island has to offer makes this video equal parts sexy and hilarious.
2. Haleek Maul – “My Plane”
As I wrote in the Top 20 list, after watching the video for Haleek’s “My Plane” it immediately made it one of my favorite songs of 2016. ”My Plane” stays true to the form of the traditional Haleek video: a minimilist aesthetic with the Bajan emcee as the main focus, expressing himself erratically in a empty space,sSharp transitions and slick editing. But this differs thanks to the use of a continuous double dolly shot (think Spike Lee movies), portraying the emcee floating, and evoking the song’s weightless and maddening feeling of life.
3. Yannick Hooper – “They Don’t Want Us to Fete”
Another offering from outside of the traditional-soca-video box, and, dare I say, the best visual from Crop Over 2016. Following the song’s theme, Yannick fights against the green with envy, supernatural “theys,” who try to effortlessly hinder him from making a performance on time. Missing car keys, a lock pipe, a dead car, and a kidnapping, the Clish Gittens-directed short is highly entertaining, by watching its protagonist hurdle every predicament thrown in his path.
4. 2 Mile Hill – “It’s Over”
The band formerly known as Nexcyx rebranded as 2 Mile Hill at the top of the year, with a new look, new sound and new project to boot. The lead single, “It’s Over,” is like a reintroduction of sorts to that band who shot that video in town – they were going in a new direction: grittier, grungier, taking more musical risks. The message translates to the video. Shot in a desolate compound, the new 2 Mile Hill logo is beams from the drum kit as the crew rock out in fresh digs. The final scene is like them burying the past, reminiscing as the flames of time turns what was Nexcyx into embers that vanish into thin air.
5. Quann – “Do De Ish”
When it looked like BIM was all Ish’d out, Quann breathed new life into the viral dance with a song and video that strips it of its earlier sexual connotations and repackaged it as the entertaining, G-rated jig the island’s youth couldn’t stop doing. The video is fresh and fun. Quann and friends (even Tianni) spill out in the streets of their housing scheme, unpack on the fly choreography and enjoy themselves without a care in the world. No stress over here. Certain corners of the internet would refer to this as #blackboyjoy.
6. Peter Ram – “Good Morning”
After Ram and co. dropped the ball by not giving the scorcher that is “All Ah We” a video treatment, I thought he and his team would be completely insane if they let that happen for “Good Morning.” Alas, someone had sense. At a time when national pride was beaming at the seams (no matter how contrived), the video for “Good Morning” showcased the beauty of the people and the hysteria of the festival, alongside vibrant images of these fields and hills as an ole’ time bus crawled through the countryside.
7. Teff Hinkson – “WDWFTS (We Don’t Wait For The Summer)”
Even though “So Insecure”’s video was the heavier promoted for obvious reasons (the quality, the location, feature), “We Don’t Wait For The Summer (WDWFTS)” was the better contribution from the Toronto Bajan emcee; its message clearer and stronger than that which followed it. The words ring especially loud as the rapper is absent from majority of the video, instead going with a sluggish plot of three ladies going about their day after a night of bacchanalia. Photographs from Jaryd Niles-Morris pop in sporadically. Sometimes reminding us of the beauty of the land we love, other times echoing each barb Teff spits to break this facade of paradise.
8. Rihanna – “Needed Me”
“Needed Me” was a surprising left turn from the traditional Rihanna video. After a sprawling shot of the Miami skyline and a vast body of water, it opens with the pop star, draped in a see-through shawl with nothing underneath, having a pensive look on her face as she looks straight down the lens. When the music kicks in, the visual cuts between scenes of her trudging through the grimey streets and seedy exotic nightclub of the peninsula, in a Lara Croft-esque number, pistol in hand, and pacing around the expansive mansion with the same stern look on her face, the same gun in tow. Was this a foreshadowing of how the night would go, or a reflection of what had transpired? What did that man do? Questions existing. One things for certain, the “savage” made one hell of a video.
9. Vanessa Bongo x Notis – “Sensimillia State of Mind”
From the first time I saw this I had it on repeat. Like the song, the video for “Sensimilia state of mind” shines bright in its simplicity. The rich colors from Vanessa’s outfits, and the psychedelic, cotton candy clouds, are as eye-catching as her bubbling energy and vibrant smile. You could almost feel the warm rays of Jamaica on your skin. Bongo’s effervescence in this short shows us that there is authenticity in her message, and good vibes everywhere she goes.
10. King Bubba FM – Calling In Sick (Meet Me on De Road)
Ever since his breakthrough with “Who Drinking Rum? (Come Out To Win),” King Bubba has always made videos a priority in his roll out, as they coincided with his rise up the ranks. He made one for 90% of his releases in his barnstorming 2015. With the truancy anthem, “Calling In Sick (Meet Me On The Road),” ringing through Crop Over 2016, reverberating out to Spice Mas, and picking up steam in Trinidad, of course some visuals were inevitable. It isn’t one of his strongest, but it sticks to the script of the source material: ditching the dredge of work to hit the road to play ‘mas. It’s understandable. Who wants to clean the stockroom when the women out deh suh sweet?
PREVIOUSLY: Top 25 Songs of Crop Over 2016 <> NEXT: Riddim of the Year
Carlos Brathwaite is the Founder & Editor of 246Mixtapes. Follow him on Twitter.
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