When the moving picture merges with the sonic beat

Our very biased selection of the top 10 music videos of 2012.

Still from Jagwa Music's "LIve from the Streets of Dar."

The year 2012 is rapidly coming to a close, which means it’s time to assemble some of our favorite music videos from the past year. Indeed it’s no easy task to construct a video in which the moving picture finds a harmonious companion in the sonic beat. Just as daunting can be choosing, among the hundreds of videos we’ve been featuring over the past year in our weekly Music Break series, which ones succeeded most in carrying a spark of innovation, capturing the essence of a musical scene and astonishing us with visual splendor. However, we’re pleased with our final selections. So without any further delay, and in no particular order, here are 10 of our favorites:

If there was one video everyone seemed to approve of including on this list, it was the one for Vetkuk vs Mahoota’s “iStokvela.” In the video, this expertly mixed South African kwaito track with a tinge of gospel transforms the streets into a dance floor showcase. Amidst the desaturated colors we encounter some sharp-sharp slow-motion mapantsula dancing (and a cameo from veteran kwaito producer Oskido).

Next up are the ‘Afro-punk collective’ Jagwa Music of Dar-es-Salaam. Here, they are performing the song “Heshima,” off their debut album Bongo Hotheads. These guys certainly know how to bring the party, we only wish we had been there to get down with them.

LV and Okmalumkoolkat (of the group Dirty Paraffin) came up with this video for their song “Sebenza” (meaning ‘work,’ in Zulu). We love the attention drifting subculture — which is huge in South Africa — gets here. The video was directed by photographer Chris Saunders, whose portfolio includes quality images of Johannesburg’s street style culture.

2012 was the year the Ghanaian Azonto conquered dance floors across the continent. It would be unthinkable if we didn’t include at least one Azonto video. In this case we chose a submission for a competition to select the best fan-produced video for Fuse ODG’s single “Antenna.” It features two dapper young men busting out their best Azonto moves in various locations around London.

2012 was also the year of “Gangnam Style.” Even though I’m sure we’re all a bit fatigued by PSY at this point and the song, we thought this Ivorian dance troupe’s version of the dance was at least moderately entertaining — their moves are certainly better than PSY’s:

Mozambican Dama Do Bling’s video for the song “Champion” is quirky and strangely captivating. There’s just something about watching friends competitively race tires in a pastel world while Dama Do Bling dances and bangs on barrels with her trademark sartorial panache.

Afrikaans rapper Jack Parow is a polarizing figure (though not quite as polarizing as the more well-known rap-rave group Die Antwoord). Personally, I find him to be pretty entertaining and his single “Afrikaans is Dood” (Afrikaans is Dead), was super catchy. Lucky for us, the video for the song is also a riot, with Mr. Parow fighting off a number tacky, sweatsuit-wearing thugs who are trying to steal his book of rhymes. The video was directed by Ari Kruger, who also came up with a great video for Driemanskap’s “Izulu Lelam” earlier this year.

Nigerian rapper D.i.s. Guise has blown up in recent months with his alluringly cosmic beats and solid rhymes. His videos are lo-fi done right and “Mr. Bambe” is no exception. Watch him get lyrical about all things Bambe in capriciously shifting disguise. (And don’t miss out on his free mixtape.)

London-based The Busy Twist’s “Friday Night” will have you dancing in your seat and the video, which was filmed in Ghana, provides you with a healthy reminder of the sheer pleasure derived from ordinary dance.

And lastly this video from the Nigerian-born, French singer Asa (who has a habit of putting out high quality videos — remember her “Be My Man”, or more recently, “Ba Mi Dele”). The haunting video for her song “The Way I Feel” gives Asa a platform to lay her jazzy vocals over immaculately constructed scenes reminiscent of melancholic documentary photographs in times of war.

Further Reading