Okayafrica premieres Okmalumkoolkat's video for 'iJusi,' off his debut EP 'Holy Oxygen I' via Affine Records.
Okmalumkoolkat has consistently come through with some of our favorite collaborations, including our 2013 Song of the Year "Gusheshe" with Cassper Nyovest. Last week the Durban-born/JHB-based rapper (aka Simiso Zwane) made his solo debut with Holy Oxygen I, a four-track EP produced by his Affine Records labelmates in Vienna Cid Rim and The Clonious. The release marks a proper introduction to the world of Future Mfana, Okmalumkoolkat's persona who does "future concepts in the now," he tells Okayafrica. "Like Zulu sci-fi but it's also all about highlights. Most things that are edited out of our known history, from his point of view of course."
On the EP closer, the non-linear wordsmith deems "iJusi" a special edition of Future Mfana. "iJusi means juice in Zulu," Okmalumkoolkat explains, "As in I got the shining, I am the blessed one." He also mentions that the song's intent was "to show flair like Basquiat's brushstrokes, every bar is a stroke of genius. The poems are informative if you really listen. Just so you all know who has the shining. I feel like in terms of being one with oneself, I am the closest in the continent and in the world's amongst spoken word messengers." The "iJusi" video, a film by Gregor Lehrl which we're excited to premiere here today, is a warped look inside the mind of Future Mfana. Shot in Vienna and Johannesburg, the footage was exported and looped onto a VHS tape and then pushed back digitally with thick and distorted layering (at the encouragement of LuckyMe's creative director Dominic Flannigan to underline the song's twisted layers. Lehrl discussed some of the video's effects with us:
"Especially for the static shots, the idea was to have backdrops that allow Simiso to perform in front of different subjects, resulting in images reminiscent of paintings or framed stills; juxtaposed with takes using a handheld cam, symbolising the wide spectrum in which Simiso’s mind and body are travelling. We wanted to concentrate on historic subjects in Vienna, combined with settings in Johannesburg, emphasizing the two worlds, in which the project is situated, coming together."
James Swift also had some thoughts to share on the video's triangulation effect:
"The triangulation effect is achieved by using a computationally intense evolutionary technique called simulated annealing where random changes to a limited set of triangles are selected based on their similarity to a target image. The resulting aesthetic is a unique abstract of the original image. The code was initially written by me in partnership with the artist Phelim McConigly. It was used for various works he created in the past three years. This is definitely the first time the technique has been used in a music video."
The next video off the EP, for "Allblackblackkat," was directed by Chris Saunders, the prolific Johannesburg-based photographer/director behind Nozinja's "Tsekeleke" (an early frontrunner for video of this year), LV and Okmalumkoolkat's 2012 video of the year "Sebenza," and more recently the SA-NYC fashion/photography exhibition NOT x Chris Saunders. Holy Oxygen I is out now via Affine Records. Watch the first video off the release below.