Rae Sremmurd is an American Hip-hop music duo consisting of two brothers Swae lee and Slim Jxmmi. The record deal Mike Will Made It was signed by them in 2013, then two years later Rae Sremmurd released their first debut album “Sremm Life”; which featured pop artist Nicki Minaj and rapper Young Thug. The following year in 2016 “Sremm Life 2” was released and arguably the most successful song of theirs called “Black Beatles” was soon made into a single. As “Black Beatles” reached the top number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100; giving featuring artist Gucci Mane his first number one as well as.
In just a month later, the song became associated to the #MannequinChallenge where people would stand still as though they are mannequins until the beat drops; this then developed into a viral trend on social media platforms such as Twitter, celebrities included!
The music video starts with the introducing instrumental of a key board playing, with a long shot that displays a sign which is usually positioned outside the place the music concert is held, as a source of information. So the rapid camera zoom allows the audience to focus upon reading “Black Beatles” and subsequently acknowledging the title of the track created by the artists Rae Sremmurd.
Then a jump cut diverts the audience’s attention to a medium close up shot of two young women screaming with pure excitement as if to suggest the style of this music video will be heavily performance based. The audience can denote the women are in the crowd waiting for Rae Sremmurd to come on stage and perform their hit single “Black Beatles”.
Several short shot duration of extreme close ups reveal the crowd’s hands waving frantically to portray to the audience their emotions of pure anticipation and excitement when waiting to see their favourite artist perform live on stage. As a result the audience then become captivated in the music video because they have yet to see the hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd and feel a sense of tension rising. But then in a long shot, the artists are preparing their set by Swae lee lifting up his guitar to signify that he will be on stage shortly.
However before they are on stage, in the intro of the song the names of the three record labels the artists belong to are mentioned in a whispering sound effect. This reduces the focus off of the actual soundtrack music as well as ensuring the audience remain fascinated by the visuals displayed onscreen.
For instance the following line “I sent flowers, but you said you didn’t receive em’ But you said you didn’t need em” is a direct link to The Beatles classic rock song “Hello Little Girl”; in which the visuals feature a close up shot of Swae Lee singing with the next shot displaying a bunch of pink flowers. As the Rule Of Thirds technique has been utilised through the flowers being positioned in the left corner of the screen, the audience’s eyes naturally look at them and the symbolism of the flowers as a gift to a girl, connotes the themes of love and friendships.
Then at 0:26 the beat of the drums drops and the first line of the chorus is sung by Swae lee; the live atmosphere is captured in a variety of shots such as the wide angle shot exhibiting both Swae lee and Slim Jxmmi on stage whilst the crowd, in the reaction seem to also be enjoying themselves. For the reason that the medium close up shot allows the audience to see the faces of each person at the front row of the concert; all of their facial expressions include their brightly lit smiles, exerting their inner happiness. Therefore, the shot reverse shot gives the audience the impression that the energy level when at a Rae Sremmurd concert is high and as a result the audience feel almost certain that they will to want to experience the vibrant atmosphere. In addition the green background lighting reinforces the idea of exuberance Rae Sremmurd possess as the colour green symbolises energy and liveliness.
Next, the rapid camera zoom from a long shot uncovering Swae lee singing with the microphone whilst the crowd release their energy through dancing transitions to the audience’s focus being sustained upon the microphone itself in a close up shot. The audience can connote that the liveliness the crowd are enduring comes all down to the voice of the artist Swae Lee and the music he creates. As a result, the audience are enticed to see Rae Sremmurd live; purely based on the fact that their concerts look extremely enjoyable for them to go to.
This shot displayed below gives the impression to the audience that Rae Sremmurd have a supportive fan base because of the multiple hand-made signs visible in the medium close up shot. The fact that the one which reads “Sremm life” is centre-framed suggests to the audience the name of their albums released is widely popular among several people. So acting as a form of marketing because the audience may like the “Black Beatles” song and will go to listen/buy the album out of pure interest if they are not familiar with Rae Sremmurd; meaning they will soon become fans of the artists.
The long shot which uncovers Rae Sremmurd and a group of others walking across the road can instantly be referred to a reflection of the iconic album cover of The Beatles who was pictured walking across the Zebra crossing on Abbey Road. Furthermore, the audience can sense the link between the lyrical content, as the song is about how Rae Sremmurd compare their success in the music industry to the band The Beatles, to visually displaying this comparison.
The use of a sudden jump cut to a medium long shot of Swae Lee in a stylish black and white checked suit demonstrates how much he has been influenced by the style of the one of the Greatest bands- The Beatles. Also later in the video Swae lee wears circular glasses that can easily be associated to the iconic look of John Lennon who was in The Beatles; he began wearing them in 1996 and since then, the glasses became his signature look. So following the line “Rockin’ John Lennon lenses” the music video does then in fact illustrate exactly this.
Moreover, the cut to a medium long shot reveals the front view of a vintage style car; which the audience can infer from the lyrics that the “cream seats in the Regal” is illustrated by the 1973 American Buick Regal car. Subsequently, the audience acknowledge that exhibiting material possessions which signify the artists wealth is a common convention within the hip-hop music industry.
At 1:17 the audience can infer that the music video for “Black Beatles” follows the conventions of the rock music genre because the wide angle shot of Swae lee smashing the guitar against a Tv screen is displayed. But before the guitar hits it a sudden jump cut transitions the shot to a much closer shot of the screen as the guitar smashes into several pieces. Conventionally, the audience can note rock artists do this to exert their inner emotions of burning excitement when performing; so Rae Sremmurd are subverting the hip-hop genre they are associated to. For the reason the audience sense they may be beginning to branch out into different styles so that their fan base gets wider as well as having great interest into rock conventions expressed throughout the music video.
Then “Black Beatles” conforms to performance based music video as shots that are used are conventionally repeated throughout. For instance the low angle shot of both Swae lee and Slim Jxmmi as they play the solo guitar, reinforces their presence as significant artists within the hip-hop genre and soon to be in a hybridised rock music industry. This is connoted by the audience through the low angle shot emphasising the guitarist striking pose on stage as the guitar appears to frame the shot; since it’s the central point of focus.
The shot of Slim Jxmmi running through the crowd as he approaches his tour mini bus is repeated before a cut occurs to reveal the featuring artist Gucci Mane who raps on the track “Black Beatles”. The edit is very subtle as it appears to the audience that the two artists blend together because they are both centre framed; which signifies their importance is equally the same. But also, as they produced song together, the good connection between the artists is uncovered on stage as both share the positive atmosphere with the crowd, who evidently enjoy their performance.
During Gucci Mane’s rap, a close up shot of his hands where the glistening gold jewellery and watch is highlighted through the high key lighting. The audience connote the gold signifies the artist’s wealth which is conforming to the audience’s expectation because typically in the rap genre, money is focused upon through their possessions being the main theme expressed in the music video. Furthermore, to support this is the fact that the audience’s attention is sustained upon the gold surrounding Gucci Mane throughout his verse in the song; such as the close up shot of his custom made golden classes as well as his reflection in a gold framed mirror. Subsequently, the audience are made to feel like Gucci Mane has a lot of money from his job being a rapper; this meaning that he is clearly successful in creating music which people love and buy. So the audience’s interest in his feature in the song has stemmed to a point where they might begin to listen to his music much more.
As Gucci Mane’s verse draws to an end, the camera pans from a medium close up shot of his last line from his rap to a medium close up shot of Swae lee beginning the chorus. The use of a hand held camera results in the audience feeling a direct connection to the music video as if they are there watching the artists live on stage. As a result, the audience’s tension and enthusiasm rises when watching and leaves them feeling captivated by the realistic visuals displayed onscreen.
After a series of intercutting shots of a variety of medium close ups of Slim Jxmmi during his verse of “Black Beatles”, slow motion editing effect has been utilised in the music video on both artists in Rae Sremmurd. For instance the iconic hair flip when playing a musical instrument like the guitar; this is so that emphasis is created on how much emotion Swae lee feels when performing. This is an aspect which will appeal to many audience members because knowing the dedication and hard work in action entices them to go an actually feel like it themselves. Moreover, Slim Jxmmi breaks the forth wall in the close up shot as he plays the guitar with the iconic guitarist face of putting his tongue out. The audience are directly addressed and view his actions as another typical convention to the rock genre Rae Sremmurd may be attempting to associate with.
Further reinforced through the short shot duration, still in slow motion of Swae lee lifting his guitar up in the air. The audience find this rather empowering because the low angle shot signifies and places power upon Swae lee as well as the above lighting draws focus into this distinct guitarist pose. Therefore, the audience can acknowledge that the video is soon ending because often musicians hold their instruments up when their performance/time on stage is ending.
The rapid camera zoom out to uncover a wide angle shot, exemplifies the enegetic atmosphere of Rae Sremmurd’s performance. Plus creating focus for the audience on the silhouette of the crowd’s hands waving around as they dance for the last time before the song finishes.
Then for one of the last beat drops in the song “Black Beatles” the synchronous sound of the drums is reflected through a wide shot of Slim Jxmmi smashing his guitar against another TV screen. The repetition of events highlights how this particular song of Rae Sremmurd’s can also be classified as a hybrid of hip-hop and rock through the visuals conveying conventions associated to both styles of music.
Next, the pair are displayed in a two shot as they walk away together after taking off their guitars. As they are in the foreground the audience’s attention is maintained upon watching the figures onscreen; whilst the long shot duration also allows the audience to notice that they were not only performing inside a concert hall, but on a roof top. In the background the outline of modern buildings is presented and the use of the natural lighting, indicates how the duo can perform peaceful songs as well as due to the brightness of the white setting conveying tranquillity.
To end the music video is a birds eye view shot of Swae Lee running off the stage to meet with Slim Jxmmi at the edge of a rail, before the shot is soon cut off. This leaves a lasting impact on the audience because they are left only knowing that the two artists walk off together and that is that.
Soon followed by a black screen, the music video has conventionally been ended and the audience feel a sense of relief as all the energy and excitement form the visuals has come to an end. The audience can connote their feelings are similar to the aftermath of an actual concert where you almost feel upset that your time has ultimately been finished when the artists walk off stage.
Overall, the main editing technique used for Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” music video consists of montage editing displaying a variety of the duo’s performance at a concert, rehearsals and behind the scenes footage where the audience see them messing around together. Significantly to note is how the pace of the editing is slow during the chorus of the song when the music tempo is rather downbeat, in comparison to the verses with rap. As then in a fast editing pace, cutting to the beat occurs to mirror the upbeat tempo of music.
Furthermore, the performance style music video subverts the audience’s expectation for the reason that this style is conventionally used in the rock genre,as several rock stars use it to exhibit their energetic performance and stage presence. Although Rae Sremmurd create hip-hop tracks, their video for “Black Beatles” combines elements of this genre through the mise-en-scene; whilst utilising the rock genre conventions in terms of the iconography.