Video Dissection/ A$AP Rocky L$D (LOVE x $EX x DREAMS)

A$AP Rocky’s “L$D” directed by Dexter Navy and co-directed by A$AP Rocky is a cinematic masterpiece clocking in at five minutes twenty-seven seconds, narrating a story of Love, $ex, and Dreams through a dynamic range of visuals and eclectic sound.

Many elements contribute to the psychedelic feel of the video, with the lighting being a major player in the tone of the story. The lights are bright and all encompassing, drowning out many of the scenes and being one of the biggest pulls that draw interest. The “Enter the Void”-esque environment is coupled with complex video shots that make the entire video flow, but not overwhelming.

Just as a taste, because it really is hard to experience this without seeing it firsthand, in the opening, the video starts with a red ambiance and a tight shot above the artist’s face as he is on his back and then slowly spins and starts to draw back to see the landscape. From there it transitions to a scene where he is walking in some non descript back alley in Japan, but there are intermittent sections of the scene where it speeds up/slows down and then reverts back to the regular pace, which is subtle but still is an interesting visual point. He then gets into a taxi and at this point the camera is still behind him, but as the door closes the attention of the camera goes to the back taillight, which is pulsing a vibrant red orange, and then disappears into the light and enters a transition that opens in the bright contains of a fire displayed on a TV set in the back of a van.

We’re taught that panning is not to be used in our news videos because it isn’t a natural eye movement, but for this video it was a successful strategy alongside the pacing of the shots utilized in order to show the setting at the different locations where the lights and signage are a focal point in everyday life and addresses the culture aspect as well. It creates a lot of interest and they do it without having the effect of sensory overload. You may get a little discombobulated, but it seems to be to the effect that they intend with the topics dealing with something as vivid and transient as drug usage with the combination of love and sex.

About midway through, the mood changes as the song switches to one of the harder songs on the “AT.LONG.LA$T.A$AP” album and this scene is also one of the longer ones with Rocky rapping into a cracked mirror with the lights flickering in this gold/beige lit room with chandeliers hanging above him and it really is just a cool technique and the final product is very dope, but before you get comfortable it transitions back to the chill confines of the original setting and closes out on a balcony awash in the bright lights of the city.

As if the song wasn’t good enough, the video only raised the appeal and added a story to the words. This is the culmination of the mastery of video to make something look so simple and visually stimulating altogether. A must watch.

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