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Almost Art... With Brandon Soderberg

Travi$ Scott Made a Daring Hot Mess of a Video For “Shit On You”

The road to Yeezus is paved with... heat vision?

by Brandon Soderberg
Nov 15 2013, 5:05pm


Imagine the addiction melodrama Requiem For a Dream as viewed through the heat vision eyes of the Predator, all done on a barely anything budget and shot in someone's apartment in probably an hour or less, and you're close to comprehending the cheap creeping charms of Corey Damon Black and Marc Kalman's video for Travi$ Scott's “Shit On You.” The video consists of shots of the G.O.O.D. Music producer/Grand Hustle rapper, wandering around, walking in circles, dry-heaving into the toilet, and generally freaking out, with a camera mounted to his body, giving it that Darren Aronosky “fixed camera on a moving target” effect wherein it looks like our hero isn't moving and it's the background that's jumping up and down and shaking. This super subjective footage has also been slathered in bummy, vision-distorting effects and caked with over saturated colors.

This cohesive hot mess aesthetic is a great visual analogue for Travi$ Scott's approach to blunted maximalist beatmaking. Scott, a producer under Kanye West's wing who makes 'Ye's epic productions actually seem kind of subtle, piles on eerie sound effects and stitches together earth-opening up Satanic sonic tangents, like some lost weekend mixing session between Phil Spector and Lee “Scratch” Perry. “Shit On You,” which is from Scott's road-to-Yeezus mixtape Owl Pharoah, swings strings around an on-its-last-legs synthesizer, woodblock bleeps, demonic wails with way too much echo, and an Auto-Tuned choir. Depending on how you choose to listen, it's either an untidy jumble with too much going on, or an immersive maze of ideas that never lets your ears settle down. Black and Kalman's video works the same way. Stare into this glob of visual noise and you're either captivated or repulsed.

“Shit On You” also employs one of the simplest and coolest post-production tricks out there: It ends with the title of the thing you've just watched on some “Fuck you, show's over, go home and soak this in” type of shit. Like a movie declaring “The End,” but less on the nose. So yeah, after enduring footage of dude rubbing his eyes and looking embattled for a few minutes, all of it obscured with Photoshop murk, a shaking shot of Scott running freezes and in-white, “SHIT ON YOU” gets stuck to your screen for a few seconds. Returning to the title at the end has a strangely haunting effect on viewers—a meta-moment of pause before the credits roll, or in this case, YouTube reloads and recommends another batch of videos. Michael Mann's Thief, is a particularly inspired example. Following the fate-sealing shoot-out that ends the 1981 neon-noir, Mann gives you the title once more and for reasons that are hard to explain—though it may be as simple as most movies don't give you the title before the final credits like that so it fucks with your head—it adds a particularly tragic period to the thing you just watched.

There's probably a more conventionally appealing or at least, nicer-looking video to be found if you pulled all of the effects off of the footage from “Shit On You” and just had Scott nervously rushing about, a camera just a couple inches from his sweaty face. But “Shit On You” is bold in its dedication to making a music video as ugly and unappealing as possible. And that's a nobly trollish goal at a time when all it takes to make a halfway dope video is an expensive camera and a half-formed understanding of shallow focus. Purposefully lacking Kanye and crew's typically go-for-baroque imagery and “This is an event, bitch” scope, “Shit On You” is the most concentrated and frills-free presentation of G.O.O.D. Music's “Just how gnarly can we make mainstream hip-hop and get away with it?” aesthetic. Quite impressive in the year of Yeezus.

Brandon would like to talk to you on the internet. He is on Twitter - @notrivia