Are the graphics in the new Danny Brown and Purist video seapunk or vaporwave? | Bleader

Are the graphics in the new Danny Brown and Purist video seapunk or vaporwave?

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Are these visuals of the seapunk variety or vaporwave?
  • Are these visuals of the seapunk variety or vaporwave?
It's been a hot minute since Rihanna's Saturday Night Live performance turned seapunk into the kind of subculture that the whole family could enjoy making fun of, which has led to this hellish postseapunk wasteland where the term is applied to anything new that uses outmoded, chintzy looking graphics. It's as if no one cares about the mechanics of URL-derived pop terminology!

For example take the new video for "Jealousy," a track British producer the Purist cut with Danny Brown, which includes all sorts of harshly colored 3D images that look like a clip show of some top-of-the-line computer animation circa 1984. Pitchfork called the clip "a vivid 16-bit karaoke clip that proves the Seapunk aesthetic isn't quite dead (yet)." Sure, the video may appear to be under the influence of seapunk to the untrained eye, but anyone familiar with the short life of online microscene vaporwave can see characteristics of that cheesy "retro" artistic milieu in the visuals for "Jealousy." (If you're unfamiliar with vaporwave be sure to read my B Side feature on the scene from last month.) The video is submerged in the toxic DayGlo hue of vaporwave more often than it uses the preferred color of seapunk, turquoise, and the intro—a title-card for the company behind the graphics, Globodigital Home Video—includes the kind of chintzy 80s lounge music the vaporwave set liked to sample during the style's salad days. Perhaps I'm splitting hairs, but the "Jealousy" clip includes only a few short scenes that show bodies of water, and I'm not entirely sure those were seas!

I knew I had to dig deep in order to figure out what URL microscene it most accurately represents, so I e-mailed Globodigital director and animator Steve Smith to find out the source of his inspiration. "It was pretty exclusively this series of VHS tapes from the early 90s called Minds Eye," he wrote. " I dig the aesthetic hard and just wanted to emulate it with a twist of hip hop imagery." He added that he was also inspired by 80s cult animated film Heavy Metal, and that "cheesy 3D animation looks rad." That's pretty obvious after scrolling through Globodigital's site, which is filled with the kind of 3D graphics that the seapunk and vaporwave sets could love equally.

I still have my suspicions that "Jealousy" has more in common with vaporwave, which is bolstered by the fact that the Purist favorited a tweet I wrote stating such. For now I'll just say my findings are inconclusive—I guess I'll just have to keep watching that video until I can make an informed decision.

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.

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