Travis Scott and Drake’s new ‘Sicko Mode’ music video is a masterpiece of surrealism. Directed by Dave Meyers and Travis Scott, and shot in Houston, here are my favourite things about this piece of art. But first, here it is again in case you missed it:
The dreamstate: a return home
This music video does many things, but it undoubtedly pays homage to Houston, Texas, Travis Scott’s hometown. According to The Rolling Stone [speaking to Sickamore, Travis’s longtime A&R], he described Astroworld like this: ‘This album is like, what do you do after you get the whole world? You go back home. The concept was, this is his journey back to Houston.’ From the teenage idiosyncracies of what your childhood town can look like to the eerie, non-linear overtones that seem to be fragments of his memory. The idea of homecoming – in all its complexities – is explored in the video.
The nihilistic hedonism
Like all the visuals of the album, the video is unapologetically decadent. There are layers upon layers of lush, hedonistic landscapes. And yet, because of the stark concrete backdrop, I never feel like it’s overkill. Every cadence is perfectly considered, and the nuances are too deliberate to be kitsch. It’s in equal parts nihilistic and excessive or hedonistic: take the scene with almost-naked women forming a tableau in the midst of a concrete jungle, while Travis smokes on a tattered couch next to a trash-fire. Behind them, the graffiti on a passing truck starts rapping.
The magical realism
From the apocalyptic low-hanging moon behind Drake walking a dog, to Travis Scott riding a horse between towering skyscrapers at night, the video is packed with magic-realistic scenes. The bodies and faces keep distorting in subliminal ways, gravity keeps tilting and the scenes melt into each other. The transitions between scenes feel transcendental given the cinematic style shifts and switch-ups in the audio.
And last but not least: the eyelid twerk
The woman twerking on the inside of Drake’s eyelid is my favourite moment. It’s bizarre, hilarious and unsettling. It’s perfect. It’s what I didn’t know I needed. It’s the Theatre of the Absurd. It’s a Xanax dream and a meme-able reality.
Since the Astroworld cover art dropped in August, the hype has been searing. If Salvador Dali was a rapper, this would have been something out of his imagination. The cover art and the video have made me giddy, and solidified my belief in art across forms, inspiring me in ways few creations have. Likening this piece of work to anything prior to it would be inaccurate – I haven’t seen anything quite like it. AESTHETICS! For me this was cinematic genius.
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