Written by Emilee Lindner • Photography by Getty Images • June 26, 2017
You know those music videos that are devoid of plot and superficial lighting? The ones with real, sweaty footage from concerts and gritty backstage tours? These videos celebrate the unity and bliss of live music, and are shot while our favorite artists are performing on stage.
The concert-footage video isn't particularly rare in the world of music, but you'll find them less in the realm of hip-hop. Typically, you might expect a rap video to be filmed in a mansion or a club with models in abundance and drinks overflowing. But with the following hip-hop music videos, it's all about the show. Come with me as we explore some of the hottest hip-hop vids that take you on tour:
“Did It On Em” is a one-of-a-kind Nicki Minaj fare, with its fierce, heavy beat and its non-melodic chorus. So a unique song called for a unique video. Instead of the big-budget, colorful visuals Minaj was putting out at the time, the song got a simple treatment (more of a slideshow) of footage from her opening gig at Lil Wayne’s I Am Still Music Tour. The footage has Minaj performing onstage with her tall blonde wig, along with guest spots from Birdman, Weezy, Drake, Travis Barker and Safaree Samuels.
Kanye West directed the Watch the Throne performance of “N----s In Paris,” which was performed 11 times at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on tour. The video is unlike others with tour footage -- taking the the clips and mirroring them against each other to create a kaleidoscope effect. There’s a cameo from Hit-Boy, along with Will Ferrell, who’s featured in the bridge of the song during his “provocative” quote from Blades of Glory.
Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi get on their Beatles game with the music video for “Black Beatles,” which has then performing on a rooftop, just like The Beatles last concert atop the Apple Corps headquarters. There’s also footage of Rae Sremmurd walking across a road in suits a la the Abbey Road album cover. In a way, the video reflects their confidence in their musical status, and mirrors Beatlemania as they show fans holding Stremmlife signs and screaming during a club concert.
Lil Wayne tapped his friend DJ Scoob Doo to direct the music video for “Grindin’,” which has the rapper boasting about his work ethic while footage of his shows are swatched on screen. The video was shot in a few locations, with Drake joining him on stage on a few occasions. There’s a lot of audience shots, along with Weezy’s signature smile and backstage shenanigans. Pair all that with the dramatic graphics the Scoob adds in and a menacing beat, and you’ve got something motivational and inspiring.
J. Cole is one of the few hip-hop artists who actually have a live album, so it makes sense then that he’d also have a music video detailing his live show. “Love Yourz” was filmed on the homecoming Fayetteville, North Carolina, stop on his 2014 Forest Hills Drive Tour. In the clip, Cole sits on stage for a more intimate vibe, rapping and singing about contentment, love and acceptance. In between performance shots, you can see his tour crew having fun, smoking and laughing with each other, making the whole project a feel-good entity.
A month after Wiz Khalifa wrapped up the High Road summer tour in 2016, he dropped this video, which is filled with footage from on the stage and off it. There are many shots of tour bus goings on, including meet-ups with fans, late-night parties and video game playing. And there are plenty of cameos -- Snoop Dogg, Playboi Carti, Dom Kennedy and SosaMann all make appearances. If you expect a lot of weed in the video, you wouldn’t be wrong.
Before G-Eazy was the force that he is now, he documented a trip to Las Vegas in the music video for “Must Be Nice.” The video includes his first sights of the strip and his view from his hotel room. You can also see him meeting celebrities on the red carpet -- meanwhile he’s rapping about the high life and how he’s broke. While there’s also footage of him performing, you get the sense that he’s finally made it. All the lavishness shown in the video gives you the feeling that this kid is ready for the big time, because he fits right in.