Evan Dale // Dec 26, 2020
Hip-hop is everywhere. So is R&B. And it’s more than music. More than any other lanes in music, today’s biggest rappers – today’s biggest Neo-Soul vocalists – are the purveyors, the social media influencers, the runway models, and in some cases, even the designers of style from street to fashion house. There is an eye and a brash edge that comes with being a name in either end of the spectrum that allows artists to see the world differently, and ultimately, to express it in ways that haven’t been seen before. Today’s hip-hop royalty – today’s R&B Kings and Queens – are risk taking and ultimately emerging iconic at a scale far exceeding their compatriots in other realms of the larger musical fabric. After all, long before Harry Styles tore Instagram to shreds wearing a dress, Young Thug made that risk far less risky. After all, Lil Uzi Vert has been sporting designer handbags since the jump. After all, rap queens from the 90’s to the now have broken down the barriers of expectation by matching – exceeding – their counterpart male energies to celebrate and exhibit the breadth of feminine energy. Hip-hop and adjacently R&B have always set the tone, pushed the envelope, and directed culture at a macro scale. And subsequently, today’s hip-hop and R&B lanes, from underground creative collectives in Tennessee and damp jazz bars in South London, to the Top Dawgs, Dreamers, Grammy’s, and main stages, are setting precedence for popular culture, experimentalism, and everything in between. And to do so, they use a lens.
The renaissance of modern hip-hop and R&B is bigger than music. It’s bigger than fashion, too. It’s also a celebration of photography and videography. And as a part of that renaissance, the music video is once again a dynamic and celebrated keystone to the larger musical arcade.
Simple words from an emerging audiovisual genius whose work is much more complex. SECK is rearranging what the future of the music video – through the macro scale of boundary-breaking hip-hop and R&B culture – will look like. And he’s doing so from Nashville. For those that understand the weight of what’s happening there, it would make sense that the tight-knit creative community that is Nashville’s hip-hop and soul centric underground would have in their arsenal an audiovisual wizard, (and by the way they have many.) And for those that haven’t heard what’s going on in the music city, picture a renaissance within a renaissance. Sure, hip-hop has made its way to the top of the pop music spectrum. Sure, R&B royalty like The Weeknd should have been considered by the Grammy’s. But fuck that. None of that is possible without roots, and in no city – no hub – no creative capital – are more roots growing deepm more risks being taken, and more culture being created than in Nashville, Tennessee.
Behind the lens of a long, entangled list of rappers and vocalists on their way to being household names, so too is the young man holding the camera. Not merely documenting, but ultimately reinforcing Nashville’s claim to the next small market creative throne, SECK is making music videos more nuanced, creative, and merely different than even todays most well-respected, budget-endowed directors. Capturing the visual stories of a creative Renaissance is no small feat. But for the emerging authority in bringing to screens the visual identity of Nashville’s explosive hip-hop scene - it’s a fluid, constant process. Young, sure, but incredibly ahead of his years and of the artistic scene at large, SECK is an adept filmmaker whose creativity is as wide-ranging as the successful risks he takes. Stomping through 2019 and 2020 with an unparalleled schedule of prolificity, he has made videos for a multitude of artists involved in Nashville’s continuous run up the scale of hip-hop culture. And doing so - in a scene as stylistically wide-ranging as rappers and vocalists come - he’s never misstepped in coalescing the entirety of his canon with the tether of his city, and the artistic variance of his collaborators.
With his closely collaborative home team, Third Eye & Co., he’s directed a number of videos from illustrious wordsmith, Ron Obasi, whose music – exclamation pointed by the full-length release of 2020 Sun Tapes – has been as thought-provoking as it’s been prolific. In the video for Mo’ Luxury which also features fellow Third Eye & Co. name, Jxdece, SECK pulls a viewer into an otherworldly black & white aesthetic:
With another close friend, collaborator, and Third Eye & Co. teammate, JORDAN Xx, - who dropped Surfing: Highs N Lows in the springtime – SECK brought to life an entire EP, Friday Special, bleeding tracks into one another with stylistically fluid, albeit differentiated track-to-track aesthetics:
For emerging Nashville Neo-Soul queen, Yours Truly, Jai – who released debut, Monarch earlier in the year – SECK stepped out of the city and out of his comfort zone for an old-school nuanced video underneath a waterfall. At the hands of a soulstress and not a rapper, he was able to seamlessly convey his style in a new way for a new sound:
Another Third Eye & Co. teammate, Chuck Indigo has been dropping music for longer than most in the Nashville scene. And as part of his march towards 2020 album, No Moor Bad Days, he and SECK linked up for visuals fueled by intensity and horror nuance with the drop of Bad To The Bone:
With lighthearted, bass-heavy Nashville rapper, $avvy and collaborator, Mike Floss, SECK stitched together a thrift shop anthem for the video for Bag/Purse:
And hand-in-hand with rising local culture mag, VSNR – who is now running a profile on SECK’s artistry – the director brought a smile to all our faces with short, We Are The Best We Have, which in any year, but in 2020 especially, speaks for itself:
SECK did more than create an unthinkable amount of wide-ranging visual masterpieces this year, he captured the emerging renaissance of his city – the emerging renaissance most strongly directing the future of hip-hop and R&B culture. He brought to the screen the unparalleled beauty and culture that he sees in his day-to-day life. And he did so – and continues to do so – in a way that makes him an ever-evolving pillar not only of what the Nashville scene means to culture at large, but how music videos are continuing to evolve and be perceived by the consumers of culture everywhere. And he’s just getting started.
For the Best Director of 2020? It’s an easy answer: Call Up SECK.