Video Review: Sadistik and Kristoff Krane – Higher Brain
Sadistik is an up and coming rap artist from Seattle, Washington, who brings a unique approach to the hip hop genre with his dark and rapid lyrical and vocal flow. Kristoff Krane is another up and coming rap artist from Minneapolis that fuses intricate raps with the natural energy created by live instrumental music. Put these two individual artists together and you get something very special!
Higher Brain is the first (maybe only?) song to get a video accompaniment from Sadistik and Krane’s first (maybe only?) double act album of 2011 Prey for Paralysis. According to the album’s footnotes, the pair got together and instantly found fusion with one another’s individual sound and in the space of only 3 months produced and recorded this incredibly superb debut album together.
If you follow the two artists on twitter and/or facebook you’ll notice that they individually have multiple and various projects currently being worked on – all of which vary the hip hop genre in refreshing ways so it’s understandable why I’m uncertain on the future of this song’s artists as their separate discographies range from solo albums, collaborations (Sadistik and A Kid Called Computer) and even free form jazz projects (see Krane in Face Candy!).
The video for Higher Brain is stunning, and there’s no wonder why Sadistik takes pride in crediting himself in the opening to the video as the director – a nice touch that demands the video gets the cinematic attention it deserves. Sadistik recurrently tweets about his love for cinema; especially the darker side to the silver screen and this evidently shows in Higher Brain’s visuals. The cinematography is beautiful; the use of focus between Sadistik, a broken mirror and a dead girl looks super swish in HD and I’m fairly certain the MC is aware of this. As Sadistik starts to rap whilst staring and walking straight at the camera you notice his subtle bloody hands under the stark white spotlight that shines upon him, all of which emphasises the darkness that surrounds him. Sadistik’s haunting performance is all the more realised by the unaware party members who he ignores and who ignore him in the background of the scene. I don’t mean to sound arty farty when describing this video, but you can’t help it when it’s done this good, Sadistik’s cinematic influences and explicit love of horror and grotesque films is bursting through the seams in this video. I particularly love how Sadistik expresses himself in this music video, be it natural or slightly acted; his lightly floating hand gestures and the shadows that hide the whites of his eyes all contributes to the wickedness of this tune.
Kristoff Krane’s performance is equally impressive, as he begins his rap in the same fashion as Sadistik, he adds his own lil touch by physically pushing through the crowd who still appear unaware of either of theirs presence. The editing is intricate, cutting to the syllables almost and visualising the speed of each rapper’s vocal delivery, this technique is continued when the tempo of the song drops by switching to slow motion and a dreamy use of dissolves. There is a constant parallel between the visuals and the music here, something not all music videos ‘get’.
There is a narrative of murder and revenge in this music video with the two rappers playing the main characters involved in the case. The ending leaves the video on a slightly enigmatic cliff-hanger, all of which adds to the impact of the song and its video which keep it buzzing through your head afterwards. Who is the dead girl? Why or how are these two guys involved with her? What’s the beef between Sadistik and Krane? What’s Sadistik’s sadistic smile about at the end?
I personally love music videos that can be creative and mix the conventions of performance and narratives in a meaningful or exciting way and this video clearly sustains a kind of surreal neo noir feel throughout the storytelling and performance sets. It’s refreshing to experience a hip hop music video that is motivated by independent and alternative cinema as opposed to just bloody Scarface and his ‘little friend’. Sadistik’s use of film language reminds me an early Aronosfky (Requiem for a Dream) and/or David Lynch (Lost Highway) and in a recent tweet exchange with the rapper himself, Sadistik cites Lynch, Dario Argento and Gaspar Noé as key influences – all positive signs of an artist that avoids hip hop clichés and shows themselves through their work.