Last year when Mura Masa released the video for his looping, staccato-beat club track “What If I Go?” he walked a fine line between simply embodying the facile, highly marketable, faux-progressive multi-ness of this moment (the clip’s cast is made up of bodies of every hue and cultural/racial lineage, filmed through a visual filter of artful grit and lo-fi “realness”) and extracting something poetic and true from the same. The clip opens on a beautiful young Asian woman full of femme swagger and inscrutable facial expressions before cutting to a playful interracial (black, white) hetero couple, a white lesbian couple seemingly at the start of their relationship, and a gorgeous gay male couple o’color. Later in the clip we get quick glimpses of other couplings, but they’re secondary to the primary trio of lovers. Settings range from bedrooms to fast food joints to nightclub dance floors as the camera moves from couple to couple. The clip’s loose “all love is valid” narrative is threaded with shots of the young Asian woman who moves solo, her storyline injecting an air of melancholy.
The viewer is dropped into quotidian moments in the various relationships: kisses, hugs, caresses, playful boxing, shared cigarettes. The video’s social playing field is equal, and it’s the very ordinariness of it all that’s so charming and winning.
Collectively, “What If I Go?,” along with Masa’s “Love$ick” (which features A$AP Rocky on the track,) and “Love for That” are all awash in romanticism – the incredible highs of young love, the incredible low of hitting the point of irreconcilable differences. Ultimately they’re declarations in belief in love, in its power to transcend and overcome – until it doesn’t. Interracial couplings and friendships of almost every racial configuration appear in these clips, a choice that is both organic and studied, schematic and poetic.
Masa’s new video, “1 Night,” which features Charli XCX on the lead vocal, is sexy and playful, as is the track itself, and it’s another building block in the utopian world he’s building in his music and videos. To the queer and interracial mix he adds two hetero black couples, one of which is runway beautiful, the other ‘round-the-way beautiful. What makes this choice so powerful is the fact that interracial couples in which one partner is black are so often presented as a statement of progressive politics and tolerance (it’s not, but that essay has to be written elsewhere) while black couples – especially those in which the black woman is unambiguously black – are given notable short shrift on the pop culture landscape. The queer couple here is more tentative than the one in “What If I Go?,” though that may well reflect the tentativeness at the start of any relationship. Every one of Masa’s clips invites repeated viewing.
Top photo courtesy Polydor UK