Friday, October 30, 2009


Inspired by a previous post about Badu's clever music video for her 2008 single "Honey", we were curious as to who illustrated said single and the "New Amerykah" album for which it was released. The culprit is one who's dubbed himself "the thinking man's poster artist". also known as EMEK. About his work, his bio states that "in Emek's posters, psychedelic '60s imagery collides with '90s post-industrial iconography. To this collision of the organic vs. the mechanical worlds he adds humor, social commentary and fantasy. Even in the smallest details there are messages."

In our opinion the album design for Badu's "New Amerykah" is one of the best of last year and a new favorite over here. We can't imgaine too many other R and B artists taking their visual presentation in this type of direction and working with artists such EMEK. There are some, are few, who's music and unique voice and perspective could allow them to "take it there" with the visual extensions of the music. Jill Scott. Alicia Keys. And we can't think of anyone else.


In 1983 the medium of music video was still a baby with MTV debuting just two years earlier. "Rockit", who's video began airing on MTV during that summer, was a big instrumental hit on the streets in the U.S. for Herbie Hancock. The song joined in on what was becoming the ever expanding and wildly creative rap and hip-hop music scene. The Electro branch of the Rap and Hip-Hop music had really jumped off one year earlier with the instant classic and now legendary Tommy Boy records release of the Soulsonic Force's "Planet Rock". "Rockit" was also interesting for the fact that Hancock was well respected Jazz musician with a rep for experimentation. As early as 1983 the outright dismissal of Rap and Hip-Hop as legitimate musical art-forms was in full effect. Many of those who trashed it resided in the land of the Jazz band (just ask Wynton Marsalis who disses it, pretty much all of it, still today). But the brothers who lived in the land of R and B music spoke loudly themselves as well about the illegitimacy of rap.

So for Hancock to dip his toe in the lake of Electro Hip-Hop, being a greatly respected musician, and join forces with rap and Hip-Hop DJ Grandmixer DST on the scratching in the song, was noteworthy at the time. Hancock brought his flair for the experimental in music to the medium of music video for the clip of "rockit" as well. The video directed by former UK Pop music duo Godley & Creme did not disappoint with its use of robots moving in time with the song. The music video won a handful of awards from MTV which at the time was not in the habit of playing music videos by Black artists. To be honest, to mind of an imaginative 10 or 11 year old (like myself back then), the clip for "Rockit both excited and frightened. There was something quite creepy about it to me. But I digress. The clip is a technical achievement for its time. Today you'd likely produce something like this all inside of a computer using 3D software.