Kojey Radical a Sociocultural Prophet in new Uber-Artistic Short Film
Evan Dale // Jun 27, 2018
If you’re not yet on board with Kojey Radical, there is no sweeter time than the now to place yourself where all of us are meant to be – at the foot of his alter taking in his words and art as gospel truer than the meaning of any before him. There is no artist more artistically inclined, and innovatively so, than the young mutli-dimensionalist whose audacity and expanse no scale can measure. And his latest undertaking, a video even grander than the two powerful songs for which it speaks, is perhaps his most important to date, executed to perfection in ways only the minds of its host and his equally socio-artistically driven friends could conjure.
The 9-minute video blends the exploits of his last two soloist endeavors. If Only and Water which features a key spot from fellow heir to the future of UK music, Mahalia, are the pair for which the scene is set. That scene is one of the involatile truths and unparalleled strengths of underrepresented communities of color and minority.
From the very start, giving host to a racially-charged set of shots – young women handcuffed and performing an evoking interpretive dance, another young woman – somewhat of a protagonist in the short film – stands beneath the yelling of a bloodied priest – while an equally gall reading by acclaimed poet, Michaela Coel jars the viewer from any sense of socio-cultural sleepiness and complacency they may be experiencing:
I built my ideals on standards…
standards I learned as an infant and then I imagined my own.
Like most curious teenagers, nah?
I watched my peers walk a path far different to mine
and I grew more confident with my own solitude.
Politics, love, manhood, and sexuality
I discovered like a blind lamb in the hands of an unfamiliar shepherd.
With… with colored pigmentation,
you must accept that your historically pivotal leaders will more than likely be killed.
With darker pigmentation,
you become an example of exoticism under the Western microscope.
Elements of your identity appropriated and then sold back to you…
sold back to you of less than clever taglines.
And through all of it,
you must smile…
Yeah, keep dancing,
knowing the revenge will taste so much sweeter once you’ve made it.
Enter Kojey Radical in the flesh for his first appearance in the video, standing between the now separated, freed dancers. Like in all of his physical moments, Radical’s fashion – one of his many creative areas of expertise – becomes a necessary talking point. Sporting an open-chested, long-cut, blood-red, ornamented blazer, his signature Stüssy wired militant beret, and black high-waisted cargos tucked into impossibly high and impossibly high-fashion high-tops, it becomes clear that the culture for which he preaches and defends goes much deeper than music.
Approaching the video’s midway mark, at the close of the If Only sector highlighted by the aforementioned music, poetry, and fashion, as well as some deservedly mentionable choreography, Radical in his eternal symbolism feels somewhat omnipotent. He later returns changed, more relatable, but not before the video cuts to an intermission again starring our protagonist and giving host to another powerful set of words by yet another key voice – this time historically so – to civil activism.
‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.’ – Maya Angelou
In the storyline’s resumption, the music and the mood change pace and give way to another host, Mahalia, for her fierce role in the already socio-politically motivated, Water. Her verse sees Mahalia seated at a patio table strewn with the parable of the empty jar, dawned in white, and accompanied by the likes of two other blanche-clad women. Adjacent is a makeshift boxing ring where Radical spends his part in battle with one of his two opponents – a woman with whom he shares an emotionally-stirring interpretive dance. His other opponent, who he fights outside of the ring, is the bloodied priest, now dawning a tactile vest and giving Kojey a run for his money.
Symbolism runs deep throughout the video. Kojey himself appears at times the untouchable, omnipotent figure in red, while at others he seems made thoroughly vulnerable by the hand of a woman and the hands of a violent extremist – in a constant battle with himself, authority figures, and loved ones. Mahalia’s setting, like something out of a far flyer take on Wimbledon yards, takes the symbolic assumption up a few notches.
But we’re not here to provide what would be a purely symbolical synopsis. In fact, what is perhaps most genial about the film is its very personal, impressionistic, and redolent aesthetic. Like all art, there is room for interpretation. But underneath it all, the music reigns supreme. And the music currently flooding the London scene, by way in particular of artists like Kojey Radical and Mahalia, is of a breed both creatively and consciously supreme.
We’re lucky to be in the hands of creators whose work is not only for the betterment of art, but also for the betterment of societal and cultural values.