Our editor, Tinashe Venge, takes the gloves off and digs in to AKA's newest video for his hit single, Congratulate. The video has amassed over 35,000 views in less than a week, but our editor doesn't think it's that amazing. Let's find out why!
I can already feel people's blood boiling after reading the headline, so I guess I should kick things off with the following three statements.
1. I really like AKA. He's a musical pioneer and has worked harder than most to ensure that South African rap music is where it is today. He's talented, he's doing good things and most importantly, making good music.
2. I love the song Congratulate. I think it's a fun listen and I will definitely be throwing my hands in the air and abandoning all wishes of being cool when it plays in the club. It's one of the hottest songs that will come out of Mzansi in 2014- I'm willing to put my bottom dollar on that.
3. I do NOT THINK THE MUSIC VIDEO FOR CONGRATULATE IS BAD. I just don't think it's that amazing. And here's why:
From a marketing point of view, this video was an outright success. It was hyped for most of last week and eventually dropped on Thursday to generally positive reaction from media and fans on social platforms. It didn't take long for the video's status to go from "Generally Positive" to semi-viral as we saw the hashtag #CongratulateVid trend for well over 24 hours on Twitter. We can't take anything away from the artist, his promotional team or his fans- at the end of the day, it's about getting your video out there and making sure people watch it. They did. Everyone did. In that regard, I take my hat off to AKA for an excellent video project.
In terms of the actual craftsmanship of the video, however, I have a few issues that may need some ironing out. AKA co-directed the video with Amr Singh, which explains his personal attachment to the video's release. We were promised a video of 'international standards' something that would 'break the mould' and set itself apart from the music videos of today (Perhaps not in those exact words, but that's what the hype itself amounted to). What we got was a video that, while enjoyable, failed to fully match the hype.
Let's start with the whole 'International standard' thing. It shouldn't matter, it shouldn't be a consideration or a factor, and it shouldn't even need to be mentioned. But it does [matter], it is [a consideration], and it is always [mentioned] and like it or not, 'international standard' its a benchmark that's not going away. AKA himself did not allude to the suggestion that his video would be 'international standard' but that's the impression that was given off based on the hype before and after the video's release. If we want to take it there, I'm going to have to be honest. It's not 'International Standard'.
The directing, editing and quality of the video are all excellent. The content of the video and the creativity involved in its conception, however, leave me feeling a little underwhelmed. There wasn't much to set Congratulate apart from other hip hop videos we've seen over the years, and certainly nothing to break the mould.
The question I asked myself was this: If we were to watch the video on Channel O, mute the sound and not read a word on Twitter or Facebook; would we think it was amazing? The honest answer to that question is 'no'. And that's what I'm trying to communicate. It was an excellent effort, with a lot to be admired, especially from a video-making point of view (And rest assured, the writer of this article knows a thing or two about video!) But ultimately, there's still some way to go before South African hip hop videos can be considered industry leaders and Congratulate is more of a step in the right direction than the destination.
I can already hear the cries of "You don't know anything about music videos!" coming from readers across Mzansi, but this is my opinion and you're perfectly entitled to yours . However, I'd like to challenge you to watch the music video below. Gangs of Ballet's video for their single, Don't Let Me Go, is exactly what should be expected of any South African artist. It's a high quality, well directed, creative (And extremely moving!) music video that is- if we really have to go there- 'international standard'