Best Music Videos of 2012

5. Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank) (dir. by Jerome D.)

Well, if he’s trying to get us to stop drinking, at least he made it look nice. Jerome D. directs Kendrick Lamar as he and his liquor bottles defy gravity, fly through space and crash into swimming pools and the ceiling respectively. In a climate of hundreds of rap videos of artists partying in clubs surrounded by scantily clad women and flowing liquor, K. Dot supplies us with a fresh take on the same old scene. This video first showed us that Kendrick is more than just artful lyrics. The captivating, contrasting colors and inspired scenes reveal that Kendrick’s got a visually creative side to him as well…not that we expected anything less.

“Swimming Pools (Drank)” makes our list not only because of the important message—we all already know Kendrick is of the more straight-edge variety—but it’s the simplicity and elegance of the visuals that allow the message to remain strong. Here we have a perfect match between song and video. Art and message complement each other, each reinforcing the power of the other. Now I just want to see good kid, m.A.A.d city transformed into a full-length feature film.

–Lauren Schwartzberg

4. A$AP Rocky – “Goldie” (dir. by A$AP Rocky)

“Come on now, we all know gold is gettin old,” preached Tony Yayo back in 2003. It only took nine years for A$AP Rocky to call his bluff on that one, and he did it with the backing of 2012’s best video of the year.

It is without a doubt that “Goldie” held it down as one of the stand out joints from that pretty muthaf***er’s debut mix tape Live.Love.A$AP, but the crisp, lavish visuals for the hit single help the all-gold grills, magnums, guns, kicks, and champagne in Rocky’s life shine even harder. 

What makes this video important for 2012 is that is directed by none other than A$AP Rocky himself, proving that in this new age of hip hop, rhyming isn’t enough to keep you on top. Today’s MC’s have to be versatile, not only in their lyrics and style, but in their repertoire of off stage skills as well. A$AP’s self-directed Parisienne adventures officially make him a dope rapper, over the top fashionista, originator of the entire A$AP brand, and an accredited music video director- essentially surpassing the triple threat. Plus, the pretty boy lets his whole team stunt in the video too, showing off his “Always.Strive.And.Prosper movement and cult like following. Pretty much, the Pretty Flacko’s got it made and he’s sho’ ’nuff not afraid to show and tell just how good 2012 has been to him:

Basically the concept of the video is to be more flamboyant and just to showcase a lot of flashy luxury—old foreign cars and fashion models. I need you to know this is all my idea. I’m the flyest motherfu**er you know.

Sure, he’s cocky, but A$AP Rocky is clearly multifaceted and proves his wealth of talent in “Goldie.”

–Fatima Johnson

3. Kanye West, Pusha T, Big Sean & 2 Chainz – “Mercy” (dir. by Nabil)

2. Odd Future – “Oldie” (dir. by Terry Richardson)

“You keep filming, fuck what they say” said Tyler in typical fashion as Terry Richardson tried to get the cameraman to stop recording as the OF ringleader spit the first verse of the group song “Oldie” into the lens. Thank God, or perhaps Satan in this case, that he did. Otherwise, we may have never seen such a candid, authentic, and humorous ten-minute video performance of arguably the illest posse cut in a long time. It was one of the first times where everyone from the group was really all together again as Earl had just returned home from Samoa. You could feel the energy in the room illuminating off this feeling of unity and finally all being together as every member participated in either cracking jokes, rapping their verse, singing along another member’s verses, playing around with props and costumes, or just in general being the usual wolf gang suspects. Music groups in hip hop have been coming back strong these past few years and this is a perfect example of the new generation of ‘em. It shows the personalities, and rapping ability, of practically the whole Odd Future collective. As Tyler says, just admit: not only are they talented, they’re rad as fuck.

–Jack Sommer

1. Drake – HYFR (dir. by Director X)

Ask anybody who has ever posted a Drake relationship meme on their timeline what HYFR means and they probably couldn’t tell you. Well, maybe they do just because Drake killed 2012 that much. Alas, “HYFR” contains one of Drizzy’s most potent verses of his still early career.

There’s nothing worse than giving a great song a terrible visual treatment. Remember “Best I Ever Had” video? While we can argue the brilliance/tastelessness of that all day, let’s move on. Director X opens with baby Drake doing a shuffle move than involves an arm motion that resembles propelling a wheelchair forward.  As we learn Drake has decided to get re-bar mitzvahed, we can assume this will be a party scene video. How right we are.

This just isn’t an normal opulence showing, this is a Jewish one! We got all Drake’s Jewish homies like his OVO reppers OB O’Brien (he may or may not be the red-headed goon mean mugging the whole time) and OVO Ryan and his non-Jewish homies Khaled, Stunna, Mack Maine and Trey Songz alike. Everything you could want at a bar mitzvah is here; The chair toss, the hora, Trey Songz encouraging you to shot some liquor and even Lil Wayne breaking a table center piece with a skateboard all the while failing to be original with a panda ski mask on. HYFR and Mazel Tov!

–Nick Williams