December 10, 2015
I was doing my research on black music today and came across two interesting articles. My objective was to learn how top-performing rappers in the music industry stay above the rest. I read an article authored by Carolina Miranda, which reviews the work of one of the greatest artists in the music industry. Kahlil Joseph is a director and artist who has transformed black music through creative videos. I have heard of the artist before but I was unaware of his recent work, “m.A.A.d” which is now available at Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Joseph created this 15-minute, hypnotic piece of art as he worked with rapper Kendrick Lamar. The author of this article goes on to describe Joseph’s journey in the film and music industry. The author includes one short film, “Until Quiet Comes” created by Joseph for Flying Lotus.
This video has some of the best scenes and images I have across in my research. The short film motivated me to view all videos that Joseph has directed so far. This was easy because Miranda has listed most if not all of Joseph’s films since he began his career. True to Miranda’s observation, Joseph has introduced a new way of telling black stories. He has taken familiar and real scenes in black neighborhoods and presented them as an unreal world that we can only dream about. I found this article comprehensive and interesting to read. It includes Joseph’s own words about his art and the inspiration behind his work. I was fascinated by Joseph’s respect for artists and their music. He does not try to tell his stories through their music. Instead, he tells the musicians’ stories and origin in unimaginable images.
Reading Miranda’s article inspired me to read more about Kendrick Lamar and his Music. Joseph describes his music as poetic and his observations profound. As I read about Lamar, I came across an interesting article by Jon Caramanica in January 2014. This article was written after the Grammy Awards in which rapper Macklemore beat Lamar in the best rap album category. Caramanica talks about a text message that Macklemore sent to Lamar when he was pronounced the winner in this category. Macklemore describes his win as a robbery to Lamar. The text seems to suggest that Macklemore considers Lamar as a better rapper or musician than him. As the author explains, Macklemore publicized the text after the awards and explained his intent when sending the text online. The article goes on to describe different interpretations and reactions to Macklemore’s text.
When I read Caramanica’s article, I could not help but compare it with the previous article I had read about Lamar. After reading the article’s title, I expected to find detailed information about rap artists and their music. I expected the author to move beyond the Grammys and talk about the current state and future of hip-hop. The article was somehow helpful because it introduced more rap artists to my research list. After reading the two articles and the related links, I realized that the black music scene has changed over time. However, the names behind this change have remained hidden for a long time. The real change agents seem to prefer a low profile and support other artists instead of taking all the credit. Exhibiting Joseph’s film art at MOCA is a great idea. I wish we had more creative directors that can produce different music videos for our black music.
Caramanica, Jon. Finding a Place in the Hip-Hop Ecosystem. 27 January 2014, The New York Times. Web. 10 December 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/arts/music/finding-a-place-in-the-hip-hop-ecosystem.html?hp&_r=1
Miranda, Carolina. Kendrick Lamar’s Video Director Kahlil Joseph Takes his Hypnotic Art to MOCA. Los Angeles Times, 25 March, 2015. Web. 10 December 2015 http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-et-cam-kahlil-joseph-video-at-moca-20150323-column.html