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Monday, 06 January 2014 13:45

Best of 2013: Top 10 videos (hip-hop, urban and drum 'n' bass edition)

Rudimental Rudimental
Written by Wil Wander

This is probably my favorite year-end list to make. Videos today are as diverse as the music they accompany, and in some cases, they rival the big screen in production value. This year's lot has definitely elevated the standard of video excellence.

These are my 10 favorite music videos of 2013, with some bonus "live" session videos to accompany them. What videos most impressed you this year?

"Black Birds" by ArtOfficial

With a limited number of videos under their belt, I was a little surprised by the caliber of the production for this animated video. Set to my personal favorite track from their 2012 release "Vitamins and Minerals," the visuals match the tone of style of the song flawlessly. Beyond that, the art and direction well surpass my expectations for music video, proving worthy of a very large audience.

"Eat Me" by Caveman Chronicles

Edited from the art of Tim Wertz, who has created an entire line of printable cut-outs of the Indyground Entertainment family, this video rises above all others on the local scene this year. Expanding on a simple animation scheme, Matthew Sawicki, who produced the song as well, developed a visual style that's both comical and grim, well reflecting the message of the song.

"Dead Star Shine" by Horrorshow

This late year release comes in two parts. One, a dark and placid home setting, featuring the members of Horrorshow plainly sitting with Solo delivering the verse and setting the tone for the video. Then, there is a scene of a father and a reluctant child that finishes with a twist that makes you suddenly reexamine the lyrics with a different perspective.

"RIP" by Kero One

Kero One is no stranger to making a potent track and captivating narration in his songs, nor making a visually stunning video that enhances the power of his art, so this excellence of this video comes as no surprise. This is simply what I expect from the Plug Label chief and should be experienced by all.

"Music" by Raashan Ahmad ft. Ty and Sarsha Simone

Raashan's "Ceremony" album and every video that was released with it are true gems. They take you through the full gambit of emotions and help you experience the songs with a true connection to the music. This track and video exemplify that by connecting the viewer to the childlike joy that music can bring us all, creatively approaching the traditional music video as children would attempt to do so.

"Free" by Rudimental ft. Emeli Sande

What Rudimental did with their debut album "Home" is almost unparalleled, translating almost the entire LP into videos. While none disappointed, there was a selection that featured such superb production that they resemble short films. This one, in particular, created an emotional response that I couldn't have dreamed of from a music video. The video's protagonist develops his understanding of freedom at different points in his life and achieves the greatest feeling of freedom imaginable as he lunges off a cliff near the three minute mark.

"Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)" by Shad

Shad pulls off this incredibly fun video without going crazy on the budget and technology. In a song about his family and heritage, that's precisely who he puts in the video. Everyone is simply dancing and having a good time as a family, and that's just spot on for the feel of the song.

"The Machine" by Tom Thum

It's not very common to get much in the way of albums or videos from beatboxers, but Tom Thum had an idea. Editing footage of insects from a BBC program, Tom mixed musical tones and sound effects, all created instrument free, to create this first entry in a series of wildlife videos.

"Count to Five" by Zo! ft. Gwen Bunn & Phonte

I can't watch this video without finding myself imprisoned by a mild seizure of giggles. Set up like a children's show with muppet like characters, the video is really sold by the personas of the bandmembers. Donning goofy smiles and rocking back and forth, they regress the viewer to a simpler time when everything was the best thing they'd ever seen.

Video of the Year

"Right Here" by Rudimental ft. Foxes

Like C2C last year, this European, mixed-format electronic group exploded onto the scene with an incredible debut album and videos that stand well above their contemporaries. Like "Free," this video boasts impressive, on location cinematography that enhances the energy and style of the music; it was difficult to decide on one over the other as my top pick, but this video stands above by so completely wordlessly developing a plot and characters, plus includes a pretty solid action sequence as well.

Video Sessions

As great as music videos are, sometimes, there's something special about that one take performance that can't be reproduced. It's a more intimate experience with the artists than a scripted video could ever be (I hope nobody takes that as a challenge). Here are my favorite TV, Radio and studio performances from the year.

"City Rising From the Ashes" (Letterman) by Deltron 3030

After years apart, Deltron reunited this year to put together a new album and surprised the world with this appearance on Letterman, featuring full live band and back-up choir. As much as the release of the album, this was a great moment in hip-hop this year.

"Ready or Not" (Like a Version) Rudimental

Already enamored by Rudimental's album and videos, I was thrilled to see them appear on Like A Version to get a taste of their actual production and style. Beyond impressed, I was also amazed by Sinead Harnett and MNEK's coverage of the Fugees' original.

"Walk on the Wild Side/Can I Kick It" (Like a Version) by Horrorshow

A classic hip-hop track has a special relationship with the sample it was built from. Some see it as stealing, while others embrace it as a reimagining of the original. Here, one of the finest hip-hop acts today combines the two into one song that captures every aspect of the process.

"Alibi" (Bluegrass Live) by Tuka

Tuka returns to this list with this video from the same series of acoustic performances at the Anandale Hotel that earned last year's appearance. Now, in addition to an acoustic set-up, he adds the Green Mohair Suits and Ev Jones to create a bluegrass version that works beautifully with the style of the hook.

"Beatbox Brilliance" (TedxSydney) by Tom Thum

Here's an introduction to Tom Thum's style at its finest. The beatboxer is charming and takes an imaginative approach to the Ted Talks forum. Rather than a skill buried within the culture of hip-hop, Thum takes the skill and makes it the spot light, if only for 15 minutes of Internet fame.

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