Fashion has always been a significant part of pop music. From time unpindownable, musicians expressing themselves through what they wear was an imperative way to further the impact of their art.
The business changed with the advent of music videos. The way musicians dressed was transformed immensely and presented with access to a new tool, the rules for a music act cultivating an aesthetic warped completely. A sparkling, live fire, kinetic picture of how an artist defined themselves or their songs was now available.
Then came rap videos. Slowly but certainly, hip-to-the-hop – a treasure cache of pop art mostly unexplored by the world – had a global stage, broadcast via satellite, putting artist most people had never heard or seen into their living rooms. And of every stripe of a music video on television, rap videos took this the farthest, utilising television to install their flag on what was cool at that very juncture, the kinds of things that Rock n Roll and pop music had always taken up and move ahead on before rap could claim it as their own.
That wouldn’t be the case anymore. No better was this clear than in the fashions sported by iconic rappers. From Run-D.M.C. to Eazy E and Snoop Dogg, to 2Pac and Biggie, to Bad Boy’s outburst of flamboyant bling, and Jay-Z’s high fashion ambitions, rap ran circles around the rest of the music video canon as far as fashion was concerned.
If music videos changed the fashion game, rap videos changed the way it was played, and it remains one of the most momentous facets of success in the culture (and in pop music) to this very day.
On their newest video for their joint track “Lento ilit”, multi-disciplinary artist Ulenni Okandlovu, Liberaxe and Da Juic3 climb at the crest of the Harare fashion centre to survey its domains, seeing a city still every bit as colourful, dynamic, beautiful, and proud (despite being visibly empty due to the pandemic) as the kingdom it was a few seasons ago when Briss Mbada declared “Harare Moto”.
Describing the notion behind the video, Ulenni, who is known for funky, eclectic and left-of-centre electronic and hip-hop concepts, had this to say;
“13 Months Ago, when we shot visuals for Lento ilit it was more on exploring the Harare fashion scene, from conceptual fashion, streetwear & the city’s style in general. We had a great opportunity of having convos with the TASTE Makers in the City: from designers, stylists, fashion enthusiasts & the guys who sale fake merchandise to kids by Ximex Mall & other malls around the city. These visuals are just a mini-documentary that features some of the amazing people based in Harare, and they are a reference to some ongoing convos that have also contributed to a birth of other projects like @skeyiandstrobo_fabrikparty etc.”
Caligraphy (Nyasha Jeche and Marcus Zvinavashe), Boytricky and fashion designer and creative Chenesai Mangoma also make appearances in several scenes in the video that brings viewers into the Sunshine City’s zany world only offering glimpses of it while leaving them wanting more.
Check out the video here.