Gil Green’s that music video director you love but whom you can never think of when you try to list your favorite music video directors. Hype Williams, David Fincher, Mark Romanek, Spike Jonze, that dude Gondry….and it kind of peters out from there. Except Green’s probably made a good 70% of the videos that struck you as ingenious over the past 5 years. What follows: A MoJaMa salute to one of the best working music video directors today. The Criterion Collection after the jump.
Pimp the System
Let’s get things started where we first learned the Gospel of Gil Green. However many years ago we saw the video for Dead Prez’s “Hell Yeah” on BET Uncut. The hand held low-fi vibe predated the onslaught of UGC as an aesthetic style and perfectly matched Dead Prez’s penchant for politics and subversion. Sony BMG won’t let us embed the video here, but check the link to get your shtudies under way.
I Spit Game at Your Wife Then I’m Robbing Your House
During another installment of BET Uncut those many years ago we came across the video for “Tear It Up” by Yung Wun, DMX, Li’l Flip and David Banner. The production of the song captured the dirrty south sound of the post-crunk scene, when marching bands were the preferred instrumentation for a track. That fad lasted for maybe a week, mostly because drum lines just don’t hit as hard as Li’l John Fruity Loops beats (Bia, Bia!). This song, however, made you realize that a tuba, when wielded right, was for real for real and not for real full of shit.
…When You First Got Your 2-Way Pager?
Neo-Soul out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida? Naw way. But when Gil Green’s in the mix a dude named Urban Mystic will get rotation and will make you misty over that Sunday evening your family gathered around the tele set watching ABC’s broadcast of the NBA Finals during the hey day of Kobe and Shaq broetry. Green’s video for “Where Were You,” with its warm sepia tones and a Bobby Brown looking boy crooning in a Nuyorican cafe spot hits home like the corny novelty song it is. I know exactly where I was when I first heard this song and saw this video. Watching BET Uncut.
Three 6 Mafia, Academy Award Winners, What!
Three 6 isn’t letting us host the whole video for their track “Doe Boy Fresh,” so be sure to check it out on Gil Green’s website to see his beautiful, panoramic opening of the Greensville Community Center. How do you tell the world that you’re the Spike Jonze of hip-hop? Um, easy, you take Oscar winners Three 6 Mafia and put them in a video that’s a send up of that other Oscar winner, Being John Malkovich. Who wouldn’t want to get a glimpse of life through the eyes of Juicy J and Project Pat? “To recap: Three 6 Mafia: 1; Martin Scorcese: 0.”
I’m ill not sick. I’m okay, but my watch sick.
Green takes us back to the single camera single shot aesthetic that hit so hard on Hell Yeah. Here he captures the essence of Wayne’s off-beat track “A Milli” by following him behind the scenes of a video shoot. A song that demanded a video that didn’t take any attention away from Wayne’s extended verse.
I Put Oooooooooooooooooooon.
Hip-hop’s dead? Yeaaaaaaaaa right. Right here? Right here is Gil Green’s masterpiece. Every once in a while we’re reminded that a video can be more than just a commercial vehicle for an artist. On that rare occasion the vision of the auteur can ride under the message of a track and make us feel more viscerally what the lyrics only allude to. On Jeezy’s “I Put On” featuring Kanye West Green uses the imagery of black and silver American flags to compose the manifesto of ghetto politics, the visual Helvetica to Jeezy’s message throughout his third record Recession and Kanye’s most personal lyrics on a cameo yet. The video’s a perfect combination of hip-hop realism and rap star performance. Hype who? Gil Green, we saloot you.