The wandering eyes are only stopped by what demands their attention. The worth of any piece of content on the internet should be measured by its ability to stop your eyes from wandering, stop your mind from thinking, and cause your heart to race. When my eyes first fell on Frank Ocean’s music video for “Nikes,” it was as if the globe itself ceased to spin for those four minutes and 56 seconds. My eyes had found something worth looking at, worth studying, worth exploring like an ancient Mayan cave, or the tomb of an Egyptian king. Looking away wasn’t an option, there was too much to see, like walking through the museum that is the artist mind—the contrast between image and lyrics stunned me into submission, a plunge into a sea of visual poetry.
“Nikes” is both overwhelming and minimal, simple yet intricate, loud but at a whisper―a video that reveals more of itself with each viewing. It reminds me of a good rap song, how you’re able to slowly grasp each punchline, each metaphor, and each reference the more you listen. It’s always a joy to revisit old Nas, Lupe and Raekwon, rappers who fill your ears with a maze of words and the thrill of deciphering their puzzle. It has all the surrealism of a Ryan McGinley photo shoot, a fantasy world that blends normality with magic.
“Nikes” is a maze of imagery and symbolism; materialism sprinkled in glitter, fearless in the way it embracing people of all shades, sexes, sexuality and creeds—weird, sexy, political, flashy; it feels like 2016 dumped into a music visual.
The best music videos are the ones that you don’t forget. They leave your eyes wide as if they’re attempting to download every second into your brain. There’s been some astounding music videos I’ve watched this year—what Beyoncé did with Lemonade is polarizing, Solange redefined the definition of beauty and elegance, Teyana Taylor’s flash dance on “Fade” is a top 20 music moment in 2016, Kevin Abstract’s “Empty” left me in a state of awe, and ScHoolboy Q’s “JoHn Muir” is conceptually stunning, without question this has been an excellent year for music videos.
Picking the best from a list of the most exceptional isn’t easy; I imagine it’s like picking a favorite student in a classroom of geniuses. I just remember the feeling of seeing “Nikes” for the first time, and the second, and the third—inhaling the art, arrested by the vision, submerged by each scene; the feeling is still there as I rewatch once again, and it’ll be there as I return sporadically next year and all the years to follow.
By Yoh, aka Nike Boy Yoh, aka @Yoh31.