It’s hard to classify the music of producer Steven Ellison, alias Flying Lotus, under any sole category. He’s equally culled inspiration from hip-hop, electronic, and jazz over the course of his last five studio efforts, the latest of which, You’re Dead, came out at the beginning of last month. It’s easy to expect as much from the nephew of jazz pianist Alice Coltrane.
His eclectic tastes and distinctive yet varied sound have drawn the interest of many a director as far as his music videos are concerned, and his visuals have done as much to add to his cerebral appeal as his music has. In honor of the release of the video for “Ready err Not” being released on Halloween, here are nine more FlyLo videos that will take your brain on a walk it won’t forget.
Eric Wareheim of “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” fame took a hand at directing this video for the song from Los Angeles. It’s a dance party with 80s backdrop and awkward close ups that features none other than Dance Floor Dale (whoever that is).
This video, directed by Daniel Garcia and based around a song from FlyLo’s second LP Los Angeles, is best described by his VeVo:
In this music video for Flying Lotus, a young archer tests her skill by shooting an arrow at the moon. To her dismay, the moon falls from its perch and into a turbulent sea. He swims the long distance to the beach where he can confront his attacker.
The video for this selection from Cosmogramma has Thundercat and an organic-looking lady traveling through the most elaborate screensaver ever created. The power of love can take you many places, even into an 8-bit video game.
To many, this is considered the FlyLo video. It made its premiere on Adult Swim. Born out of a collaboration between him, Adult Swim, and animator Lilfuchs, the video is a passing through the various stages of life, told through various detailed animals. It’s almost impossible for me to explain this one. Just watch and enjoy.
“Kill Your Co-Workers”
A selection from FlyLo’s Pattern+Grid World EP becomes a papier mache-looking world where the makers of robots unleash their creations on the world. All else I’ll say about this is that it’s aptly named. Directed by graphic designer Mike “Beeple” Winklemann
“Until The Quiet Comes”
Director Khalil Joseph is another filmmaker attracted to FlyLo’s persona. The titular fourth album themed itself around dreams and stream-of-consciousness progression, which wound up being a perfect match for Joseph’s short film, which tracks a day in the life of youth in South Central Los Angeles, it cuts between a child who guns himself down in a drained out pool and yet another soul leaving its body to express freedom. Joseph also directed a short film based on Kendrick Lamar’s album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” aptly titled “m.A.A.d.”
Putty Boy Strut
Another offering from UTQC, this dystopic video directed by Cyriak takes place in a techno-organic world where little robots eat everything in their sight and eventually take over the world as an all-consuming mass. The song it’s set to is so upbeat and cheery compared to the rest of the album, but its ending leaves room for hope yet.
A one-armed Elijah Wood stars in this video set to the tune of the track from Until The Quiet Comes, where he utilizes telekinesis to create a new arm and control the world around him. Before too long, he descends into a colorful spacey head trip as FlyLo’s electronic drums and detached guitar licks permeate the air around it all, very much keeping with the dream motif of the whole album.
Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Music video writer/director Hiro Murai’s work is known for its crisp cinematography, use of tracking shots, and uniformly surreal and even jarring imagery. From Shabazz Palaces and Childish Gambino to Spoon and Queens of the Stone Age, the Japanese-born Murai has brought cinematic vision to many a musician’s work.
His work on the first visual from the lead single from You’re Dead! is no exception. In the song, guest emcee Kendrick Lamar rhymes about the acceptance of death (“This that life beyond your life, this ain’t physical for mankind. This that out-of-body experience, no coincidence you been died. Bitch you’re dead!”) and the video reflects this acceptance, too. It opens on the funeral of two young children, whose spirits rise from their coffins and dance together while their friends and family continue to mourn their physical forms. Beautiful imagery and FlyLo’s hauntingly beautiful production, coupled with Lamar’s fast-paced philosophy and licks from bassist Thundercat, is a potent combo.
Ready err Not
FlyLo had a treat for his fans this past Halloween in the form of a video for the minimalist song off of his latest project “You’re Dead.” Directed by animator David Firth, famous for his “Salad Fingers” videos, the video is odd and gross in all the right ways; it follows a family of cannibals who kidnap Ellison and decapitate him before celebrating by eating each other’s intestines. It’s better if you just watch. NSFW.
As a bonus, here’s a video for Erykah Badu’s song “Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long,” directed by Ellison himself. Who knows where his music and his vision will take us next?