Today we at Seattle Weekly printed an Incomplete History of Seattle's New Hip-Hop Cinematography--and while it touched on a wide spectrum of The Town's phenomenal rap visuals, the designation of "incomplete" was pretty necessary. To supplement it, YouTube and Vimeo pages have been scoured for the Top 10 Seattle Hip-Hop Videos of 2010. Narrowing the list down to ten was plenty difficult, and there are more than a few worthy of an honorable mention (including most of Jon Augustavo's work not mentioned here, Garrett Wesley Gibbons' video for Hushd Puppies' track "Nothing At All," and JFK's "High School Sweetheart" filmed by Fueled Creative.) And as much as it belongs on a best-of list, Zia Mohajerjasbi's momentous work for Macklemore's "The Town" technically came out in '09--just to clarify.10. "Dear Friends" - Sol [Dir. Jon Augustavo] Featuring cameos from the song's producer Ill Pill, Grynch, Lace Cadence, and Thig Nat of the Physics, the (mostly) black and white music video is beautiful in its simplicity. Low-key and down-to-earth, the camera follows Sol around his house, the studio, a photoshoot and a show--but best of all, it's as real as the song is, from the cracked screen on his BlackBerry to his Puma hightops.
9. "To The Top" - Ripynt [Dir. Griff J.] It's one thing to make a well-shot music video, but entirely another to tell a story in the process--and in this one, it's definitely the latter. The song and its hard-hitting lyrics are aren't a joke, but if anything this flick reminds you never to take yourself too seriously. And appearances from Grynch, Fatal Lucciauno and Spaceman only add to the townbidness vibe--not to mention the comedy of Wizdom's interruption.
8. "Do Something" - Dyme Def [Dir. Estevan Oriol] Off their aptly titled and envelope-pushing Sex Tape born of a partnership with local clothiers T.I.T.S (Two In The Shirt), this video keeps with the theme by featuring a prominent cameo from pornstar Gianna Michaels. It might be the only NSFW local rap video, but that doesn't mean it's not a great one.
7. "ExtraHellaDope" - State of the Artist [Dir. Stephan Gray] With a video for their lead single from debut album SeattleCaliFragilisticExtraHellaDopeness, the SOTA Boys and Gray manage to capture the unique place where Seattle and hip-hop intersect with their laid-back party vibe. And granted Amazon named another one of their tracks, "Hey Hey," one of their best of the year, they're getting noticed for the artful connection at a national level. Saturated colors, waterfront parks and lush greenhouses complete the expertly concocted summery vibe.
6. "So Cool" - Eighty4 Fly [Dir. Jon Augustavo] Accompanying his debut release The Eighty4 Fly Project, this Las Vegas-set video is notable in that it effectively acted as a launch pad for both its filmmaker and rapper--two people who deserve the shine. Setting half the shots under the neon of the Vegas Strip and the other half in the barren desert frames a familiar dichotomy between party life and recovery mode in an extreme way.
5. "Soothsayer" - Victor Shade [Dir. Garrett Wesley Gibbons] The duo of Common Market's RA Scion and producer MTK carried some of 2010's biggest buzz in the local hip-hop community, and it's only fitting that the superhero themed-project also had one of its best videos. Featuring breakdancing from the Flying Sneakers Crew, some literal crimefighting and a refined artistic vibe, Gibbons video matches the energy of MTK's hardbody beat and Scion's flow.
4. "Upside Down" - J. Pinder [Dir. Jon Augustavo] Teasing his forthcoming Code Red 2.0, the video for Pinder's latest single is captivating in its use of time and motion, slowing and starting the clock in a way that makes fighting with a hillside of weeds worthy material. Augustavo gives the rapper a star-studded backing band of local musicians that includes Trent Moorman (Head Like a Kite) and Tilson (formerly of The Saturday Knights). But that doesn't change the haunting echo of the sample--or his voice in the chorus--and the genuine human struggle that both director and artist have become so good at portraying.
3. "I Just Wanna Beat" - The Phyiscs [Dir. Jon Augustavo] This song has become so iconic in Seattle hip-hop that predicting its accompanying visuals was just about impossible. But the masterfully edited result was on another level, and taking you with the trio through is was quite possibly one of the most fantastically populated libraries of all time. If nothing else, it'll keep you from forgetting that brains can be sexy as hell.
2. "Coffee and Snow 2" - Blue Scholars [Dir. Zia Mohajerjasbi] This song (and its video) is not only another high mark for the Seattle duo, but another perfect embodiment of the everyman rap that they've perfected. From sitting on the john reading cinema books to playing Starcraft 2, scarfing down arroz caldo to slipping on the sidewalk, Geo and Sabzi continue to tell your story better than you can. Forthcoming record Cinemetropolis is already one of the highlights of 2011.
1. "My Volvo" - Grynch [Dir. Stephan Gray] After shooting Fresh Espresso's "Big or Small" (which got play on MTV), Gray films the first, and biggest, viral video for Seattle Hip-Hop in 2010. Funny enough, it almost never happened: "We were planning on shooting a different song for most of the pre-production, and then after two months of planning I get a late-night call from Grynch and he goes, 'Yo, we've gotta do My Volvo,'" said Gray. "And I was like, 'I was kind of wondering why you didn't want to do that anyway,' and he goes, 'Yeah, I'm gonna have a lot of people pissed at me if I don't."