Shooting a music video in South Africa is the new thing to do. Solange Knowles came out with her video, “Losing You” last week, and Little Dragon’s music video for “Little Man” surfaced on the web in the past month.
Both videos were shot in Cape Town’s townships. Little Dragon’s video doesn’t interact much with the surroundings, but Knowles dances around the township with friends she apparently flew down for the occasion, using the Sapeurs style as an inspiration for her video.
Produced by Blood Orange’s Devonté Hynes, “Losing You,” is a “sticky mid-tempo dance-R&B cut,” according to the LA Times. Which says the song is best enjoyed with the music video.
The use of Cape Town as a backdrop brings up questions of cultural appropriation. As Marissa Moorman, from the blog “Africa is a Country” says, “both videos just use these neighborhoods as background, as periphery ghetto chic.”
Fellow writer at “Africa is a Country,” Marian Counihan, says: “Township life has never looked so glam. In some ways it feels cheap, it’s like the (re)discovery of the ghetto — but now it’s slightly exotic, and so fresh again…” Counihan goes on to add that it’s a nice track, and “it’s refreshing to see Africa filmed in a slightly faded palette instead of the oversaturated one we’re used to.”
Despite the fact that the videos exoticize Cape Town, the style and creativity go beyond the mini-drama love story that is so popular in other music videos. I am left both wanting to go to Cape Town, and listen to these songs on repeat.