Between cutting footage and pulling selects from my past weekend in Rahway, Chinatown and Harlem, I subconsciously deviated from my repetitive task at hand and found myself on YouTube watching “Lookin’ Ass Niggas” on 1080p. Before I even thought about sitting down for the whole day to work, I conducted my daily ritual of checking my XXL phone app and headed straight for new music. And behold, right after headliners informing me about Dizzy Wright’s latest drop and Rapsody’s rendition of Pusha T’s “Numbers on the Board,” Nicki Minaj blessed the cold Internet with a heater that will remain present in speakers at all clubs and house parties this summer. Titled “Chi-Raq,” the Queens emcee dropped a track armored in AK47 shell casings that probably answered some burning questions as to whether Nicki still has the bars we all became loyal Romans to her for. Thinking there might have been a video to the track, I went to YouTube, and, well, found myself watching her shoot 20 rounds of an AK47 in the middle of the Joshua Tree area in the deserts of California. But what I was most interested in was the director named at the end – simply, “Nabil”.
Nabil Elderkin is probably one of the most underrated contemporary media artists of the decade. Looking through his portfolio, I was shocked by how much work he has done for chart-topping artists, of which include (though are not limited to): Kanye West (of whom he stated in his interview with Vice he used to get in contact with Gee Roberson, Minaj’s manager), Bon Iver, Just Blaze, Jay Z, James Blake, Frank Ocean, John Legend (All of Me), The Weeknd, and so forth. With a body of work so diverse, dynamic and provocative, you can’t help but to ask why you may have not heard of him until now. From his incredible budget film for Antony and The Johnsons’ “Cut the World,” (see above) to Ye’s Cruel Summer banger, “Mercy,” in execution and stylized technique, Nabil very may well be be part man part eagle part viper. His eye for lighting, composition, movement and sequence, and narrative story-telling definitely gives him that bold lined quality we all look for in an iconic filmmaker.
Similar to myself as a self-identifying mixed-media artist, the use of cinematography and mindful attitudes on a piece of work in its post-production stage, especially in the ways editing plays a significant part in narrative, plot and portrayal, the Australian by means of Chicago director has challenged my jaded outlook on the seemingly broken relationship between the visual art and music industries. I could not begin to imagine ever wanting to label someone like Nabil as simply a filmmaker, but rather a visual composer. Seeing work like his makes me question my already tireless work ethic and leaves myself asking whether I’m doing enough as a professional artist – all of which are totally positive reflections and sentiments. Motivation, rather, is the mood I experience watching budget films like these – motivation cushioned in focused dedication.
As always, support your neighbors, build with your community™.