Music video directors talk creativity, quality of music videos

May 3, 2024

article reposted by Chelsea


Recent debate on social media about the quality and creativity of local music videos resulted in tempers flared as some individuals charged that the prevalence of guns, marijuana, and skimpily clad females showed lack of creativity on the part of some music video directors.

Several well-known and up-and-coming music video directors have come down on either side of the debate. Interestingly, however, some have declined to comment publicly.

Ras Kassa, respected veteran music video director and film-maker, like some of his counterparts, opined that the quality of music videos has improved over the years.

“The quality of music videos has improved and that is because of the technology, which is much better, and more people have access to the technology. You can just
Google or go on YouTube to learn how to do anything, and you kinda get it,” he told the Jamaica Observer’s Splash on Wednesday.

“[Have] people’s minds got any better in creating better concepts? I don’t think so. I think the music has fallen off… I haven’t seen anything jump out at me. I think that one of the things that I used to do is I would listen to the entire song and I could just take two or three lines from the song that resonate with me, and I’ll take that to go make the entire video. I like nuances, so I’ll take a little piece here and there. Like for instance, Welcome to Jamrock by Damian Marley, the lady washing her hair to the lady snapping her finger on the beat, Damian walking through the broken-out wall at a certain time. I’m not seeing these things,” Ras Kassa shared.

Asked whether he was concerned about the direction that music videos have taken in recent times, Ras Kassa said: “The prevalence of guns, etc, are not exactly new. Guns have always been in music videos… My thing is, I realise that this generation — and I’m not blaming them, I’m blaming the video directors — …they go for the shock value, and it lasts two days, two weeks… So I blame these directors because maybe they are fans of the artistes. I’m only the fan of one, and that is the business for me, and I let people know that this is my music video; this comes out of my thoughts, the music is yours, but the video is my thoughts. I think the directors should put their foot down and think about their legacy.”

Ras Kassa’s first music video was TOK’s chart-topping 2001 hit Chi Chi Man, produced by Tony “CD” Kelly and released on the LOY label.

“I didn’t make it about some people trying to kill homosexuals. What I did was cleverly take a couple of lines that kept jumping out in my mind. TOK took their girls to the cinema and they’re watching a movie on the screen, and then in the movie it is about four guys and this evil car and they came together and used their power and the car disappeared. The car drove through them. Directors have to invest in themselves,” Ras Kassa charged.

Ras Kassa’s music video credits include Damian Marley’s Move, TOK’s Deadly Medley, Dude by Beenie Man, and Miss Thing, Worried Man by country singer Willie Nelson and Toots Hibbert, and Superior by Gentleman. He has also worked on several corporate Jamaica campaigns as well as television commercials for World Cup Cricket.

“I no longer do videos. But every now and then,I’d come out of the space that I am in and I will collaborate with one artiste and make an art piece, and that one artiste is Damian Marley, and we have something coming up. I realise that this is not my market any more,” said Ras Kassa.

His advice to up-and-coming music video directors: “Pay attention to everything, look at everything as if you’re watching the television; the lighting, the composition of things, the shapes. Buy some paint and mix colours, get some books to learn about composition, and watch movies on DVD or on the streaming platforms.”

Christopher “Icey Jace” Campbell has been a video director for some 10 years.

“I’ve always had an interest in music videos. Growing up I would watch BET’s 106 & Park to see all the latest videos. Years after quitting my job in the banking sector,I met Sharon Burke of Solid Agency and she offered me a job as a publicist. After a year in that position I started shooting artist performances, interviews, and social media content for the artistes in the camp which later morphed into doing music videos,” Icey Jace told Splash.

His credits include Gyal Thief by 450, Bad Inna Bed by Sean Paul, Torpedo by Skillibeng, Gas by Ding Dong, Many Reasons by Wayne Wonder, Nice Up (remix) by Bounty Killer and Tia, and Made for My Love by Julian Marley.

He agreed with Ras Kassa’s assertion that the quality of music videos has improved.

“Personally, I think the quality of music videos locally have significantly improved over the last 10 years due to the advancements in cinema cameras as well as other production gear. We’ve also had an influx of new directors such as Bank Roller Visuals, Reel Films, and Top Shoota, who are breathing fresh ideas into visuals, so I think the future of music video production looks good,” Icey Jace opined.

He added: “Oftentimes we as directors try to match every shot with every lyric, and I see where this has started to become the norm. While I understand that the visuals are a reflection of the music, I believe any music video which openly glorifies guns, drugs, and sex should be filtered into sub spaces, much like when BET had their UNCUT programming for mature audiences, or platforms such as WorldStarHipHop or DancehallStarz. I think having everything in one space is what people are concerned about.”

He has some advice for other directors coming into the business.

“I would suggest making more commercially marketable videos as a sure shot solution to cleaning up the industry. Hire art directors, stylists and DPs who can spread the focus of the audience more with set designs, lighting and wardrobe, so that all the emphasis doesn’t have to be on lyric matching,” said Icey Jace.

Want to Be a Guest?

Email Us Your Story


Stream our top episodes!

More Posts for Show: Cruisin On The EDGE w/ Danae