When Ko-Jo Cue and Lil Shaker began sharing photos of ‘Up and Awake’, featuring Kwesi Arthur, we knew the video would either be a slave video or be inspired by a slave story.
From the field nigger garbs to the lynching and abuse of these slaves, and their quest to attain their freedom are vividly recreated in this short yet profound video directed by Esianyo Kumodzi.
Inspired by the Steve McQueen 2013 Oscar winning movie 12 Years A Slave, the video opens with four slaves – Ko-Jo Cue, Lil Shaker, Kwesi Arthur and Juls- strategizing their escape to freedom from their masters. Juls, however bails out of the plan leaving the three to undertake this journey. (Juls bailing out is indicative of how indolent the whole slave progrom made some of these slaves).
Chased by their gun wielding masters on horse backs, Ko-Jo Cue and Lil Shaker succeed in their escape, rendering the attempts of their master’s unsuccessful.
Scenes of plantation life – the lynching, public beatings, cotton harvesting – are shown. The texture and quality of video, the garbs worn by them, the acting and the overall scenery aptly reflect the 1800s slave epoch.
The overall cinematic look of the video deviate from the traditional hiphop videos we are generally accustomed to.
Watching the video, one could be forgiven for thinking an old reel of a slave movie was imposed in the video from the 3:10 seconds mark. All the scenes in the video are however, acted out. (Fun fact: None of the people in the video are actors. This is their first acting ‘job’).
The runaway slaves become free in the end, trading off their white and khaki slave costume for resplendent kente clothes at the end of the video. Freedom has finally come.
Ko-Jo, Lil Shaker and video director, Esianyo Kumodzi have been releasing some incredible visuals for songs off ‘Pen and Paper’. Videos such as ‘Untitled’, ‘Pen and Paper’ and this latest work, ‘Up and Awake’ are conceptually different and incredibly executed.
Watch video below