‘‘Hollywood made the mistake, often (thinking) that, ‘oh no we can’t let black skin be dark, even though it is. There is a way to let everyone look like they look in the real world and be beautiful’’- Patrick Cady, cinematographer on the HBO hit series ‘’Insecure.
For years, the black skin has not earned the same attention as other skin colours on television. The derision of its value is historically entrenched. Even today, the attention that a very dark-skinned person is accorded is not on the same scale as someone with a lighter hue receives, albeit they are cast from the same ancestry.
Through visual platforms like television, movies and beauty/fashion magazines, the ‘dark skin-is- inferior’ narrative has been deliberately cultivated, nurtured and promoted. And like a wound inflicted on the memories of many including those blessed with dark skin, the narrative has become truth.
The desire to look ‘beautiful’ among dark-skinned people created another business realm for the powers that be through skin-lightening products. Having witnessed the implications of these skin products on a dark skin – both medically and on one’s self-esteem, the reclamation of self has become an important agenda.
The visual medium that was used to debase the dark skin people has become the tool for this conscious reclamation of skin tone agenda. Black people in various aspects of entertainment are helping foster new ideas, revealing the pride in being black or dark skinned.
Ghanaian artist Kirani Ayat’s recently released video sit rightly within this new wave of highlighting the beauty of the black skin. The video for “Shugah2x” is directed by the super creative Andy Madjitey. From the opening scene where a shirtless Ayat is shown after a screen partition to the powerful dance movements at the end is a celebration of black beauty. The screen parting is akin to that seen at the theatres.
Shot entirely in black- and – white, the video did not only focus on the skin tone of its characters. It also tackled the subject of the individual freedom while exhibiting our culture through fashion and dance. One also sees how a lady in just her underwear confidently posses with her back at the camera with part of her breast showing. The contrast between her dark skin tone and the white underwear makes for a perfect picture. (Same goes for other scene).
Andy Madjitey’s frame- like shots look like paintings on a wall. That is, each scene can pass as a piece of art hanging in a gallery. The details and the monochrome shots look spectacularly engrossing, exciting, refreshing and fulfilling.
The video for “Shugah2x” belongs in the canon of videos where art, rather than the music creates an indelible impression on your mind, largely off its minimalistic tone, sharp yet narrow focus and both Ayat and Andy Madjitey’s creativity. (Joey B’s “La Familia, Pappy Kojo’s ‘’Nyame Bra’’ and Obrafour’s ‘’Ako’’ or M.anifest’s ‘’Simple Love’ emphasized the artsy side of their videos).
“Shugah2x” is lifted off the experimental “Her Vibe Is Right” EP by Ayat and features Genifa who offered a dose of soul to the EDM influenced track.
Watch Kirani AYAT – Shugah 2x