Sunday, 11 July 2010

Textual analysis: Pharcyde-“Drop”

Textual analysis: Pharcyde-“Drop”
The music video for “Drop” performed by the Hip Hop group Pharcyde is an example of a concept based video. This is because the music video concentrates on a theme, in this music video the theme is going backwards in actions but forward in lyrics. This is effect was created by making the group perform the actions of the music video backwards and then playing the music video in reverse, this gives a surreal effect. This effect was probably portrayed to distinguish the group from other generic hip hop acts.
The music video begins with an establishing shot of one of the members of the group of artists. The camera shot is a close up of the member of the group, looking upwards to the sky as though he is asking for forgiveness. At this point the audience are unaware that the music video trying to produce an effect. In the background behind the establishing shot we can see rundown buildings suggesting that the male member of the group is in a “rough” neighbourhood. This is a conventional setting for Hip Hop videos as it shows the artist are “keeping it real”. This type of setting gives the artist in the band and his other members a “tough” image as they are still in “rough” area even though they have gained wealth from music. It can also be argued it gives the band a “down to earth” representation as wealth has not changed them and made them forget where they came from. So far, from the establishing shot it can be argued that the music video is adhering to the conventions of the Hip Hop genre. Also the costume of the member of the band is a leather jacket and baseball cap which are generic codes of the Hip Hop genre although it can be argued that these pieces of costume are not only generic codes of the Hip Hop genre.
In the following shot we see the other three members of the group slightly more clearly from a long shot. Here we can see that the artists are moving weirdly and to some audiences it may appear as though they are moving backwards in time. This effect may surprise and intrigue most audiences as it is not clear why the group is performing in this way. However, some may interpret that the artist are moving backwards in time to undo something they have done in the past. This interpretation ties in with one of the members of the group looking to the sky as though he is asking for forgiveness. The effect that the music video is using is not conventional of Hip Hop music videos as it makes the group appear as though they are not able to control themselves, whereas conventionally Hip Hop artist may try to act as though they are in control by acting “tough”. The clothing worn by the artist is however conventional of hip hop artist. The band is wearing baggy clothing and baseball caps which are clothing you are most likely to see in Hip Hop music videos. Also they are rapping in a conventional manner as there is still rhyme and flow with the beat. The broken down cars in the mise en scene reinforce that the setting they are in is rough, also the fact that the housing is in the form of tall buildings suggest that the music video is set in the “ghettos” of New York. This adheres to the conventions of the Hip Hop genre as it gives the band a tough image which is also how most Hip Hop artist are represented. The only unconventional aspect of the music video in this scene is the eccentric movements of the members of the group.
In the next shot in the same scene we see all the other members of the group leave the camera shot and only one member remains in the corner of the shot remaining. As he is not covering most of the camera shot it represents the fact that he is not powerful alone and needs his group. It suggests that they maybe reliant on each other. The setting in this scene is the same but we see the band moving forward while the camera is tracking backwards. There are very few cuts in this video even though quite a significant amount of time in terms of music videos has passed. This is unconventional of the Hip Hop genre as there are normally many cuts and changes in settings in most Hip Hop music videos. It can also be argued that the cars shown in conventional Hip Hop music videos are flashy and expensive. This is not the case in this video most probably because it would not fit in with the setting and confuse the audiences.
In the next scene in the video there is a cut to a high street which seems as a bit dirty and grim as it is littered and the buildings are very old. In the first shot we see a long shot of the band still moving backwards. They are still wearing similar clothing which is still baggy. There are also normal people in the background who are not surprised by the fact that there is a Hip Hop group near them. This suggests that they are comfortable with this neighbourhood. From the following shots we can see that other people are also moving backwards and being involved in the music video. One white male also joins in with the rap, this suggests that they are in touch with the people from where they grew up. This is a stereotypical representation of Hip Hop artists as it suggests that the group is still the same and down to earth.
In the next scene we see the artist in their boxer shorts in the streets, this could be in read in many ways so it could be suggested that the audience is taking a polysemic reading here. This is because the fact that the artist are in there boxer shorts may suggest that they take things a step extra with their music, as conventionally Hip Hop artist are topless in their music videos whereas this group has also decided to perform bottomless. Another reading of them being almost naked is to gratify female audiences allowing the band to enhance their target audience. However, there actions in this scene clearly show that the group is trying to be different and separate themselves from other Hip Hop acts. This also may show that the artist are ordinary people who are "keeping it real".
In the next scene we see the artists in stairways still moving eccentrically. One of the shots in this scene shows a member of the group wearing a Bear’s costume, in a long shot. This reinforces the fact that this Hip Hop music video subverts the conventions of the Hip Hop genre. Also as this is piece of costume is hard to interpret, so it was probably included to show that there is no narrative to this music video. The shot also includes balls flying around; this may be included to show the group is creative and playful with their music. This prop is unconventional of Hip Hop music videos as it does not give a tough or powerful representation of hip Hop artists.
In the next scene the group is back to where they started showing that there is a circular narrative. The setting is conventional of Hip Hop music videos as it shows buildings with graffiti and bins, in the mise en scene. This connotes that the artist are in a “rough” area, this is the same neighbourhood throughout. As one of the members is topless it can be suggested that this is where he is most comfortable. There is then a cut to cartoon image of the band with a additional member who may be some one that has passed away that they were once close to. This may be why they are moving backwards in time, as they are trying to go back to a time where they were with this person in the drawing. This may also explain why the establishing shot was of a member of the band looking to the sky, as they were in remembrance of this person. However, this interpretation is not clearly represented in the music video so it may be inaccurate. The music video ends with the graffiti drawing being removed as though they have come to terms with the passing away of this close person.
Overall, it can be said that this music video both adheres to and subverts the conventions of the Hip Hop genre. This in my opinion is to distinguish the group from other Hip Hop acts and give the group their own uniqueness. The range of readings that can be interpreted by the various camera shots suggest that the music video is open to different interpretations, this also means that there is no clear narrative making it a concept based music video.

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