For the last few years, certain video styles have become staples in the underground music scene. Most underground fans are familiar with the VHS aesthetic Bones popularized in 2013 (and continues to use to this day). Same goes for the trippy, anything goes-type visuals Cole Bennett made fashionable in 2017. Artists have clearly been inspired by, or straight up copied these styles because of their visual appeal and uniqueness compared to techniques of the past. This has made it increasingly rare to find a visual that breaks away from these “new” methods of video making. Every now and then though, a video comes out that bucks the trends and opts instead to push the envelope creatively. Hvmmer’s visual for his latest drop, “ how could you ?”, falls directly into the category of videos that go beyond the underground’s established creative limits, and into uncharted territory.
Director @noahjoey sets a colorful, otherworldly tone early on, featuring crudely drawn, animated flower cut-outs dancing against a black background. This artistic style, known as “collage stop motion”, meshes well with underdawgbuju’s hazy synth pad and 808-centric beat, instilling a childlike sense of wonder in the audience that continues throughout the video’s duration. After the introductory title card animations are completed, a cartoon version of @noahjoey sends viewers in a flash of lightning to a star-filled galaxy. Upon arriving in the picturesque space, listeners are greeted by Hvmmer, or at least the Hvmmer that looks to be drawn rushedly by a Kindergartner anxious to get outside for recess. The dread-rocking, disembodied head version of the rapper proceeds to unload his troubles on the audience, posing difficult questions his somber tone suggests he doesn’t know the answers to.
How could you leave, how could you go? // How could you sleep, knowing you told?
This seemingly uncomplicated bar showcases Hvmmer’s ability to pack deep depths of meaning into his lyrics, while making them easily accessible. The first instinct of many listeners will be to assume the question is being asked of a lover who left unexpectedly. The main reason for this is that the red, heart-like shapes surrounding the rapper suggest he is struggling with lost love. By the time the second question is posed, it’s clear that viewers’ initial expectations were being subverted, seeing as the second line is less lover-related, and more an implication of non-romantic betrayal.
I done seen ups and I done seen downs // and I done seen fiends and I done heard rounds // and I done heard screams and I done heard sounds // that would have you scared, boy run in the house
Hvmmer’s decision to take a lyrical detour into his darker memories not only provides more context for his initial thoughts on betrayal, but fits jarringly into the visual world noahjoey created. The combination of the fiend’s blank stare and oversize shell casings remind the audience that while this cartoon world is childlike and whimsical, the real world in which we all live is cruel, dangerous, and unforgiving. Underdawgbuju and Miego’s supporting verses continues this narrative theme of bad faith and disloyalty, following the question and response format Hvmmer utilized earlier and exploring the intricacies of living a life hardened by the streets.
The video’s end is sure to leave viewers wanting more, and not just because it promotes Hvmmer’s I Wish I Was Dreaming project that’s due out on June 28th. This piece is a prime example that you don’t need to rely on the tried and true styles of recent years in order to make an impactful visual. It’s too early to tell whether this video will start a collage stop motion wave in the underground, however, it’s very likely to inspire editors and directors to innovate this art form and take future visuals to new creative heights.
Watch the memorable visual for ” how could you ? ” below.