Days before the release of the infamous “Hotline Bling” video, an underappreciated L.A.-based producer and rapper named Busdriver sent out a tweet saying that “hip hop is the driving business innovator in popular culture.” Less than two weeks removed from his speculation, I’m afraid Drake and Travis Scott have proved him right. We all saw Drake’s out-of-place self-promotion last week, but what makes it any different from Kanye and Travis stumbling around the woods draped in Yeezy Season 1 (the day after the release, no less)?
Well, a lot of things. It’s no secret that rap is becoming increasingly corporate, but there’s a difference between advertising and using multiple avenues for artistic expression. While “Hotline Bling” was effectively a “now in-stores” service announcement for OVO clothing, the beige suede that covers ‘Ye and Scott here serves as an extension of that Orwellian/post-apocalyptic world they communicate with their music. It even takes place in the woods; they’re running from something. The “separate but equal” doctrine need not apply to fashion, music and video when they can work in tandem as channels for expression.
For example, Yasiin Bey’s appearance is completely unwarranted, but his masked prancing adds to the hellish nature of a video titled “Piss On Your Grave.” Kanye literally raps his soul out. Though Travis spends most of the video hiding behind ‘Ye, at least his generally pissed-off demeanor doesn’t contradict the song. Instead of inciting me to open a new tab and cop some basic-ass sweater, they held my attention and gave me a glimpse into a world I had previously only visited through music. The video isn’t so much a “visual aid” as it is piece strong enough to stand on its own.