The 8 Best Anime Hip-Hop Music Videos
It’s amazing how much work goes into creating animated hip-hop music videos. Whether it’s claymation or stop motion, they can break the boundaries of conventional music videos, capturing the essence of a song and bringing it to life. Below is a pick list for some amazing anime rap videos, though this shouldn’t be considered a complete list of all the best. These anime hip-hop music videos are also listed by release date rather than quality rating, as each entry offers its own distinct characteristics. Let’s get into them.
1.”Behind bars“ – Slick Rick
When this single from his 1994 album was released, rapper Slick Rick was actually behind bars, which inspired the creation of the music video. Hosted and directed by Sash Andranikian, the video satirically illustrates police brutality, incarceration, and unjust judicial practices through traditional animation, reminiscent of a cartoon from MTV’s Liquid Television. Although most of the video lacks color except for bright reds in a few scenes, the animation is smooth, expressive and vivid against the black background, allowing viewers to focus on what is happening. right in front of them. The police sketch-inspired visuals also tie in with the rapper’s message and theme.
2.”Break it— Jaylib (J Dilla & Madlib)
From the imaginative minds of Rory Gamble, Adam Artizada and Demetrios Katsantonis, this quirky clip features rough, cut-to-length animation and combines stop motion, practical hand drawings and realistic landscapes. The song’s instrumental is menacing and dark, reflected through the music video’s visuals of ravaged homes and desolate street corners. The beat matches that of a ticking clock, emphasizing the urgency of “The Heist”, which is reiterated by the song’s intro and lyrics. The video is full of animated brutality, vulgar themes, and obscene imagery juxtaposed with childish cartoons. Despite this, they oddly complement each other, giving the video a quirky charm that sets it apart on the list.
3.”90210“ – Travis Scott with Kacy Hill
Mesmerizing stop motion visuals immerse people in worlds of awe-inspiring detail, and “90210” is no different. Edited by Hype Williams, the video depicts Travis Scott as an action figure. The rapper travels through a vibrantly colored city that seems empty but teems with life, seen in cars driving on a shiny road and illuminated windows. Minor details such as the black trash bag by a door or the maze of fire escape ladders in a dark alley create an immersive experience for the viewer.
When Travis returns home with a woman he meets, we are invited to a cozy, furnished apartment decorated with wallpaper, lamps, and plants. Despite its eerie X-rated scenes and a giant Travis figurine wreaking havoc, the detail in the video is incredible and a testament to the hard work that went into the shutdown animation.
4.”OJ’s story” – Jay Z
“The Story of OJ” not only received backlash over anti-Semitic lyrics, but also over racist imagery in the music video. The video contains stereotypical caricatures of black people, reminiscent of the racist cartoons of Censored Eleven. Black characters are depicted with the same exaggerated features, which ties into the song’s social commentary that regardless of their social or financial status, black people cannot escape discrimination. Jay Z discusses financial literacy, wealth and property in the song with symbolic imagery, which is shown as his character walks freely through a ship among chained and docile slaves. Although some have found the imagery in its music video offensive, The Mill and Titmouse’s animation is striking and works well to convey its message. However, no matter how amazing the animation is, Jay Z’s problematic lyrics about Jewish ownership cannot be defended or ignored.
5.”Say Lyk—NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge)
This clip is full of movement. In the opening seconds, we see a bottle of booze sinking into a swimming pool, dollar bills hovering in the cool California breeze, palm trees swaying in the reflection of the pool water, and loudspeakers jumping to the beat of the song. Wild summer festivities are in the spotlight. The backyard and house are littered with bottles, pizza boxes, clothes, and sleeping strangers.
The song has a laid-back, carefree vibe, showing the animated characters of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge navigating the road, in love with the women they pass. The scene where the two emerge from a tunnel has incredible lighting and artwork, showcasing the animation prowess of Robin Velghe and Andy Baker. This aesthetically pleasing video and its distinct character designs and warm, vibrant colors perfectly visualize the song’s summer vibe and sexual innuendo.
6. “Snowchild” – The Weeknd
The Weeknd showcases his career through incredible animation in this music video, made possible by D’Art Shtajio. The video is full of metaphorical imagery, references, and easter eggs for fans, but one notable aspect is the video’s use of expressive colors. As we wind through the freezing, freezing streets of Abel’s hometown of Toronto, the accompanying lyrics about battling homelessness and his desire to escape only make the images more impactful. The vibrant hues and neon lights of the sci-fi metropolis he later finds himself in also echo his new life as he sails to fame. The scene where he spends the night with a cyborg woman has a red glow, which could represent passion but also imminent danger he faces seconds later. The music video’s colors are vibrant and emotional, amplifying its introspective, melancholic melody as it looks back on its difficult rise to stardom.
7. “Eazy” – Kanye West
The captivating visuals of Kanye West’s “Eazy” music video were quickly overshadowed by his personal feud with Pete Davidson. The video mixes clay animation and live-action scenes, depicting gruesome images of a burning church, a black coffin, and distorted clay figures, heightening the song’s somber instrumental accompaniment. We see the Chicago rapper traversing a bleak, barren landscape and abducting Davidson, who is killed after rose seeds are planted on his head. Kanye also casually holds a severed head that is believed to be Davidson’s, which adds to the video’s morbid vibe. As impressive as the animation is, it’s impossible to ignore the events leading up to the creation of this video. And while Kanye claimed he meant no harm when describing Davidson’s murder, the disturbing lyrics and text that appear near the end of the video say otherwise.
8. “Cash In Cash Out” – Pharrell ft. 21 Savage & Tyler, the Creator
Lights in a room come on when a carousel activates, bringing several tiny characters to life. At first glance, these miniature figures appear to be clay, but they are actually CGI clay models. It took over a year to create this innovative music video for Pharrell’s song, and the video captures the movement and texture of the clay well. Executive directors Jules de Chateleux and George McKneally studied live shows from Pharrell, Tyler, the Creator and 21 Savage to create it. They also asked artists to submit videos of them performing their parts on the song, recreating them in the video. While there’s so much going on on screen, it never feels distracting, and the energetic, carefully coordinated characters make for an entertaining sight and a great final entry in this list of animated music videos.
It’s certainly not a complete collection of all the great animated hip-hop music videos on the internet, but it does give you a few highlights to enjoy before delving deeper into the genre.