A few years ago, I was lucky enough to catch Seattle hip-hop duo Blue Scholars — comprised of MC Geologic (Geo) and DJ/producer Sabzi — performing at my college. The duo describes their sound as cinema art-rap, and I would add that they also fall under the politically conscious subgenre of hip hop. I remember that it was a fun show and that I particularly enjoyed the animated funny faces Sabzi made from behind his DJ equipment. I actually found a photo a couple of days ago with Geo right the edge of the stage very close to where I stood in the audience with my eyes closed (the photographer’s flash caught me off guard) and a gigantic smile stretched across my face. Blue Scholars may not be blowing up on LA radio just yet, but I’d find it hard to believe these memorable shows haven’t garnered them a worldwide fanbase already.
Recently Blue Scholars released a music video for a track off their 2011 album, Cinemetropolis. The song, “Anna Karina,” is about the well-known Danish-born French actress from the 1960s, and here’s what Geo had to say about it from his newsletter:
Anna Karina is distinct for making eye contact with you as you watch her in a film acting as a character who is aware that she is acting in a film. No big deal in movies nowadays, but in the pre-postmodern 1960s, it was some crazy shit. A powerful act made from a powerless situation. On one hand, she breaks down the biggest wall in her art form and demands you to acknowledge her. On the other hand, her every movement is dictated by a director and his demands. In Anna’s case, that director was Jean-Luc Godard, whose films I gained an appreciation for through the young homie Matt Jay.
We met Matt when he was in high school in Portland and kept in touch while he was studying film in NYC. It was after he wrote about some Godard film on his blog that I saw Vivre Sa Vie, which was the film that replayed most in my head when I wrote “Anna Karina.” So it only made sense that Matt, the guy who hipped me to Anna Karina, be the one to direct the video for the song “Anna Karina,” inspired by Anna Karina herself, and done masterfully in a single take. If any video deserved to break the streak of Sabzi-eating-food cameos, it’s this one.
I can’t believe this was filmed in a single take. The way the director micro-manages the actress can probably be relatable to so many Angelenos pursuing anything in the entertainment industry. Or to extend it further, the criticism we receive, no matter who we are, may become internal. That’s how I depicted the mirror scene, at least. Or is this song and video about how someone in the position “above” us can limit our creativity? What do you think? Let me know in the comments, and if you want to catch Blue Scholars live, be sure to pick up tickets to their December 9th show at The Troubadour.
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