COLORS music videos are some of the most striking features of online hip-hop culture. Artists of all calibers have gone on to reimagine their biggest hits and deepest cuts alike. Because COLORS is a one-of-a-kind experience, and artists are beginning to premiere new music on COLORS as they once did on blogs, we had our senior writers Yoh and Donna-Claire Chesman discuss the function of COLORS music videos in the current hip-hop landscape.
Their conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
yoh [1:03 PM]
Hi, Donna. How are you today?
donnacwrites [1:03 PM]
Drained, but still kicking. Happy to hear from you as always, sir.
yoh [1:05 PM]
We are knocking on the door to the weekend, hang in there. You know I look forward to our weekly conversations. Recently, I have been watching a lot of COLORS performances on YouTube. It's been a while since I found a series so simple, yet captivating. Are you a fan?
donnacwrites [1:06 PM]
Major fan. I think they're such a unique way to repackage and distribute music. I'm also taken by people using the series for premieres. The blog premiere is all but dead, yet the COLORS premiere seems genius to me.
yoh [1:17 PM]
YES! COLORS reminds me of the days when artists would go on 106 & Park to premiere new music videos. The outlet was important for artists and fans. The first time most fans encountered J.I.D's "Workin Out" was on COLORS. It was exciting to hear and be enamored by a song that could only be heard on that channel. I played it at least 200 times before DiCaprio 2 was released.
The same can be said about EarthGang's "Up," another COLORS premiere that is currently unreleased with over four million views on YouTube. What I find interesting about COLORS is how artists arrive to perform songs that are more of an album deep cut rather than the album single. GoldLink's "Justine's Interlude" is beautiful, a song I've replayed constantly, but this isn't his next 3x Platinum single like "Crew."
What do you think of COLORS as a platform that isn't just another spot on the press run, but space for artists to display another side of their music?
donnacwrites [1:23 PM]
I think COLORS is a place where artists can be artists. Because of the intimate setting of the shoot, there's a real chance for the artist to go ahead and pour their heart out and connect with fans. I love how bare everything is, and shooting in 4K adds such humanity to every frame. 6LACK's COLORS show is nearing three million views, and while I enjoyed "Disconnect" when it dropped, I found that seeing him all alone performing it gave the song new life and it quickly went from song to album-favorite. I think COLORS gives artists a chance to give their music a second, more intimate and heartfelt life. It's not about impressing our ears, it's about appealing to our senses as people.
yoh [1:42 PM]
Spot-on. Watching April pull out the violin during April + VISTA's performance of "FOMO" gave the song an experience that couldn't happen without the visual component. JPEGMAFIA's "Thug Tears" is so explosive! Watching him feels like how the record should be encountered.
donnacwrites [1:42 PM]
Interesting you mention playlists because I think this is top-level curation. COLORS allows the artist to curate themselves. What do you think of that?
yoh [1:44 PM]
Hmm. Well, COLORS is run by someone. There has to be a selection process of some sort. The artists curate their experience, but who curates the selection?
donnacwrites [1:45 PM]
Someone who understands that hip-hop is bigger than a single algorithm. I appreciate the variety of types of artists, and also the career levels they are at. It truly feels like there is no such thing as too big or too small for COLORS; like a platform that privileges the artistry first. Streaming playlists simply don't have that organic and genuine touch, to me.
yoh [1:47 PM]
I agree wholeheartedly. In COLORS I trust.
donnacwrites [1:48 PM]
So let's end with a big question: Where do you think COLORS can go? Is there a ceiling to this success? As in, will fans ever tire of the content, since it is so straightforward?
yoh [1:55 PM]
I don't think so. Especially if COLORS leans further into premiering music. Giving us more incentive to gather around their channel and discover new artists and new songs. This is the perfect case of if it isn't broke don't try to fix it. No one is asking NPR to get a bigger desk or BET to move Rap City out of the basement. Sometimes, and this happens very rarely, you stumble upon an idea that is self-sustaining. As we mentioned, the experience COLORS is giving viewers is rewarding as is. The saying goes, if you build it, they will come. Well, we're here and we want more. Please and thank you.
donnacwrites [1:55 PM]
Let the Slack say, Amen.