1) Black Milk, “Welcome (Gotta Go)” (tinyurl.com/2375e3v): Even though the staggered, stop-motion graphics attached to Black Milk’s “Welcome (Gotta Go)” video could make some dizzy, director Anthony Garth created enough kaleidoscopic visuals mixed with key Detroit scenery to make this one of the best music vids of the year on a national level.
2) Miz Korona, “Playground” Featuring Moe Dirdee (tinyurl.com/27cckeb): Watching unruly, miniature versions of Miz Korona and Moe Dirdee as kids picking on people somehow helps make a song about bullying adorable. The video gurus of GhostPost production were crafty enough to take a surly song and make the video street- yet kid-friendly.
3) Invincible and Waajeed, “Detroit Summer”/“Emergence” (tinyurl.com/2g8yf96): It isn’t just scenes of Belle Isle and vivid shots throughout downtown Detroit but the way director El Iqaa captures the uplifting feel of the city during the summer months that makes this double music video stand out.
4) Elzhi, “Deep” (tinyurl.com/ybg3dg7): Director Gerard Victor Atillo’s star shone brightly in 2010, and his work on Elzhi’s “Deep” was arguably his finest of the year. While El proves (yet again) that he can outrap anyone, Atillo does a nearly perfect job of showcasing Elzhi’s grounded yet flashy personality. Color treatments and locations all help to make this one hell of a video.
5) Danny Brown, “Greatest Rapper Ever” (tinyurl.com/2bk8bxl): Considering that Danny Brown is the cleverest shock-value rapper in Detroit, it’s only fitting that his video for “Greatest Rapper Ever” features a man stripping copper wiring as Brown raps about selling pregnant women crack. Neither is a farce, and considering that everything is intentionally shot low-budget, that chosen aesthetic mixed with wild punch lines helped Brown’s music resonate with Internet rap fans globally.
6) Black Milk, “Deadly Medley,” featuring Royce Da 5’ 9” and Elzhi (tinyurl.com/33p7ren): Here’s another top quality video from Gerard Victor Atillo. This was one of the more anticipated collaborations of the year — and it lived up to the hype. Royce, Black Milk and Elzhi on one track proved to be a lethal combination (as the song title suggests), so the video had to be on the same level. Between this video and his other work, Atillo proves there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be working with national artists in 2011.
7) Mr. Chief, “Can’t Stand It,” featuring Guilty Simpson and Wrecknoze (tinyurl.com/2dfsmsb): In terms of creating a true concept video, director Adam E. Pillon alley-ooped a slam dunk on this one. Much of the video was shot in the murky woods of Southfield and at the American Pawn Shop on Eight Mile. Without many frills, they paint a creative picture of rappers fed up with the direction the industry is heading, and their peers going along for the ride.
8) Crown Royale, “We Gotcha” (tinyurl.com/265jlhn): Even though this video was shot in Southern Cali where half of Crown Royale (DJ Rhettmatic) resides, the group’s other member, Buff 1, hails from Ann Arbor, and videographer Jeremy Deputat is a Detroiter. By law of numbers, that makes this gem local, and with all of the sunshine and sand featured, Michigan folks shouldn’t mind watching just now. Props for being the last official music video shot at Fat Beats LA before it closed as well.
9) Magestik Legend, “All Eye Know” (tinyurl.com/26gq5vt): There’s no shortage of emcees who compare the rap game to the drug world, thus finding innovative musical illustrations is a tall task. Between the dish rack full of vinyl records and various other slick shots, Gerard Atillo (him again) takes a slightly clichéd reference and illustrates just how hard Magestik Legend hustles at his craft.
10) Stoopz N Breeze, “Dade County Cruizin” (tinyurl.com/29oyczl): Taking place during a fictitious time period in Miami, Detroit’s best comedic hip-hop group, Stoopz N Breeze, find clever ways to flesh out the similarities between Motown and the Magic City in this video. Most of the wardrobes are ’80s neon chic, and the visuals are so over-the-top cheesy that they work. Josef Petrous isn’t a widely known video director yet, but if he can do cheeky work like this that still sings, he’s worth keeping your eye on in the new year.