How do you stand out in an over-saturated internet rap scene? Release the best videos in the state of Texas — a lot of them, all at once.
There is a pattern among young emcees attempting to come up in the viral rap scene. The internet is producing similar sounding artists using over-synthesized flows, distancing beats (looking at you pre-loaded Garage Band loops), and trivial lyrics. The increased accessibility artists have to streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube Music, and Tidal democratizes the publishing process, but it also over-saturates the hip-hop market. Artists have to create new strategies to stand out from the crowd.
One young rapper who is emerging successfully in this competitive internet culture is Rone NFN. This past summer, he released For These Racks and Always. He is moving forward with a new, Fall PR strategy to stand out from the onslaught of SoundCloud emcees. His plan: to release videos — a lot of them and only weeks apart. Rone has yet to release a full-length album or EP on streaming services. His most recent singles, “Baguettes,” “One Day,” “Whole Lot,” and “How It Started” were only delivered in conjunction with a music video. The videos, directed exclusively by Dan2TheL, showcase his hometown Austin, Texas, from the inside of downtown convenience stores, the infamous South Congress Avenue, and East Side.
Dan2TheL rejects recent rap video trends that use zoomed-in framing. Rone’s earlier videos are edited in sync with the bass, but Dan2TheL upgrades the visuals and refrains from using jarring diagonal angles. His style is mature. He uses wide-angle shots, glittery evening city views, and different locations to emphasize Rone’s unique sound. Austin is not known for its rap scene, but the video makes the city seem like an up and coming hip-hop epicenter. In “Baguettes,” Rone sways around a convenience store and drives slowly across the infamous South Congress bridge in a white Mercedes. He smirks at the camera as he roams Austin’s East Side at sunset. His lyrics are extravagant in comparison to the settings we see him occupy, “we’re throwing Balenciagas in the summer just to look cool in ‘em.”
Rone is casual in a hoodie, but he slides all over Austin with everyday elegance. He is confident, manifesting success into reality with lyrics, “I’m trying to stack it and flip it because I never had shit.” His vibe is also laid back, and his crew surrounds him like he’s the one to be around. The video only has a two-minute run-time, but it ends with the same rock n’ roll tenacity as its Austin setting. Rone’s sound is unexpected and easy to sing along to.
Rone’s video, “One Day” by Dan2TheL is one of the most compelling music videos I have seen as a critic, or avid internet rap fans have witnessed for a while. Similarly to the convenience store in Baguettes, Rone is in a simple space, a barbershop. The video transitions into a more surreal vibe when the barbershop becomes draped in LED red lights.
Dan2TheL cleverly frames Rone pushing the camera to the side, cutting to a scene showing him outside the shop. His lyrics are self-reflective, “you ain’t givin’ em a penny, walk in the store, I want this, I want that, I can’t afford it.” He continues in rhythmic sarcasm, “But I know that imma have it in a lil minute, I might not be here three years from now.” The editing keeps sliding, merging with Rone’s rap-singing, “so imma ball calls it Magic, how this choppa shoot a bunch of pennies.”
The video concludes Dan2TheL’s characteristic technique of providing a close-up of the artist. In the last echoes of the track Rone smokes. The viewer is invited to become chilled out, at peace with the flashy visuals and bluesy trap of the road. Rone is in association with NFN Entertainment in Austin, TX. You can check out more of his music on Spotify, YouTube, Instagram, and check out his website on United Masters.
Originally published at http://superindykings.com on October 24, 2019.