Here's a puzzle: You're a not particularly well-known rapper with a couple of albums under your belt, trying to introduce yourself to a wider audience. You've got a song with a harp sample and lyrics with a wide range of references that include Afrika Bambaataa, Cash Money Records, Rammellzee, Burt Bacharach, the Brill Building, Zola Jesus, Human League, outrageously expensive high-fashion brands like Prada and Balenciaga and low-budget but prolific art collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. You want to make a video, but your budget is more Herbert and Dorothy than Balenciaga.
Your elegant solution, if you're Raj Haldar, who raps under the name Lushlife, is to hire the directing duo LAMAR+NIK to make an intricate, homemade video that puts your words first.
LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This video contains profanity.
In the video for "Magnolia" is a series of quick cuts in which you see Lushlife and a cast of dozens face the camera, each wearing large cardboard cutouts of the lyrics over his or her head. "The idea is basically a lyric video brought to life," the directors wrote in an email. "We really just wanted to highlight the diversity of his lyrics and the subtle wit within the verses, all while telling a short story."
Supplies were purchased at a cost of $80 (a hot glue gun, glue sticks and paint pens) or scavenged (cardboard boxes collected from a grocery store, box cutters "lying around the house") and used to create 188 large cardboard word sculptures that could be worn over the head. Those word masks were then worn by friends and "random people" and filmed at more than 65 locations. "The process sounds just as laborious as it was," LAMAR+NIK wrote, "but in the end we truly believe we have created something we had never seen before."
Raj Haldar says the shoot was meticulously planned. "[It] required a lot of rapping the same lines over and over again while riding elevators, among other things, each time donning a new cardboard headpiece," the rapper/producer wrote. "No spoilers, but the last scene of the video was awe-inspiring to be present for, especially to think that these words sort of sputtered out of my head just a year before."