Best Videos of 2019
Evan Dale // Mitch Dumler // Dec 28, 2019
As 2019 draws to a close, it's time to take a look back and celebrate the artists and the teams that succeeded the most in merging the musical with the visual. Colorful exhibitions and crisp black and white; conglomerate squads and solo acts; established veterans and up-and-coming risk-takers; this list may be short, but it's golden.
Alxndr London's Talking Drum
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that's so enthralling about electro-soul experimentalist, Alxndr London's Talking Drum. The track was at first the leading single to his 2019 EP, IVMERIN, but before the project itself came to public fruition, the public was blessed with London's video premiere. For an artist with such an aesthetically-driven image, the fact that halfway into his career, he's just now dabbling in video is surprising. But, the cultural insight and artistic intrigue with which his debut shines is not surprising at all once one gets an understanding of his music. Bold, visionary, futuristic, and founded in the creative coalescence of his dualistic UK-Yoruba roots, Talking Drum is a one-of-a-kind exploration of afro-futurism at a time when the West African Cultural Renaissance is becoming the world's most unique artistic engine.
Read why Talking Drum is our Best Video of 2019:
Even amongst a barrage of other videos taken from Dreamville’s iconic and unparalleled Revenge of the Dreamers lll, Sacrifices is able to stand out. It’s not only the lineup – Johnny Venus (EARTHGANG), Saba, Smino, and J. Cole – or the fact that as a takeaway from the album, it’s one of the most emotive and lyrical tracks; it’s how it all comes together. Exploring an abandoned concrete structure flooded with light, the four rappers trade tales of love and loss all while donning extravagant outfits. And as an ode to Venus’ late father, the track – which features a cameo from his stoic mother – ends up nothing short of important on a variety of scales.
Calming R&B soulstress, Raveena has been one of the most impressive figures to come out of 2019. With each and every track from her debut album, Lucid finding its way into the emotionally important playlists of the world, Stronger in particular feels, well… strong. A tale rooted in darkness and emerging into the light, Stronger sees Raveena triumph over her attackers and her doubters. The natural, muted color scheme of it all does nothing but make the entire thing brighter and Raveena – in a year marked by a debut album, a US tour, an NPR Tiny Desk feature, and a couple videos, will continue being defined by the strength and message of Lucid and Stronger throughout her lifelong canon.
SAINt JHN's Borders
With 2019 came Brooklyn phenom, SAINt JHN’s sophomore album, Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs. In juxtaposition to his 2018 debut, Collection One, which was one of the more high-energy, anthemic hip-hop albums of the year, GLLS came together an eclectic collection of hip-hop adjacent R&B inspirations. And taken from it all, his collaboration with the album’s namesake, Lenny Kravitz, stood out above all else. Borders is a heroic love song about breaking down whatever it is that separates two from one another. And the video, highlighted by a mesh shirt-styling Lenny Kravitz, an expectedly posh and stoic SAINt JHN, a pair of jaw-dropping dancers, a whole lot of mirrors, and a complete lack of color, was one of the year’s best moments.
Daniel Caesar & Koffee's Cyanide Remix
After a Spring defined by turmoil over some controversial social media comments, R&B overlord, Daniel Caesar flipped expectation with the release of CASE STUDY 01. The album – his sophomore – tore down the perfected image carved by his Freudian debut and proved the world that even as an established great in the R&B game, Caesar is capable of transcendence. After the drop of the experimental album, a tour ensued, opened by a young reggae phenom named Koffee. And in the midst of the tour, a collaborative remix of CYANIDE changed Caesar’s image once again. Now that the remix has a set of visuals set in Jamaica that have come to be some of the most beautiful, most emotive of the year.