That hotline bling video can only mean one thing...Drake plus the 72-year-old American artist, James Turrell. An unlikely pairing one might think. Drake, 28 year old Canadian rapper normally seen poppin bottles alongside fellow musicians Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, and Turrell, Los Angeles born artist and King of the 1960s Californian space and light movement who has been working and exhibiting all over the world before Drake was even born. Well one would be right, no collaboration here but Drake ‘fucks with Turrell’ in his latest music video 'Hotline Bling', which has had over 341 million hits on Youtube so far.
So what’s all the commotion for you ask? Well if you haven’t seen the video you should take a look. Firstly to check out the badass rapper’s not so badass dance moves and secondly because even if you aren’t a fan of Drake or his music, the artistic setting has clearly been inspired by legendary artist James Turrell therefore making it more than the average money, girls and champagne filled music video.
‘I fuck with Turrell’ Drake has happily admitted. ‘Fuck’ may have a plethora of pleasant connotations that spring to mind but in the rap game apparently it also means ‘to imitate’. Although the director of the video, Director X, cites that any similarities between the two artists were not ‘conscious’ it is hard to see how Turrell hasn’t played a role in its concept. What’s more, last January Drake even posted a series of selfies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when he visited Turrell’s retrospective displaying over 50 years of his work. Drake captioned one in particular ‘Turrell X OVO’, OVO being slang for ‘October’s very Own’, Drake’s month of birth.
Image source: http://hyperallergic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/12142674_182764825393950_1245351334_n.jpg
Image source: http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/exploring-james-turell-the-artist-who-inspired-drakes-hotline-bling-video
So who is James Turrell and how has he managed to capture the eye of one of the world’s biggest and most famous musicians of 2016? Born and bred in LA, Turrell makes the sky his studio as he works with light and space in order to create art that captivates its viewers to discover the wonders and limits of human perception.
Image source: http://www.wmagazine.com/culture/art-and-design/2013/06/james-turrell-brings-new-glow-to-las-vegas/
‘My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought.’
This definition can easily be applied to the notion behind 'Hotline Bling'. Drake is known for his sensitive, self-observing and contemplative approach to his music and lyrics, which is exactly what he delivers in 'Hotline Bling'. Singing about dismissal and isolation, Drake only has himself to reflect upon. In 'Hotline Bling', Drake does not understand women (well lets face it not many guys do Drake) as he gets broody over a former flame. In his own world alone, vulnerable and lacking self-assurance, the only warmth that appears comes from the prominent candy hued lighting backdrops, which are an obvious reference to Turrell’s 2013 installation inside the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Image source: http://www.wired.com/2015/10/is-it-fine-art-or-is-it-drakes-hotline-bling/#slide-2
In this exhibition Turrell generated a powerful presence of both artificial and natural light with ‘a special focus on the role of site specificity’ to produce an introspective and meditative atmosphere. The natural, curvaceous environment that Turrell frames his viewers within connects the everyday with the extra-terrestrial. A world just like the one Drake immerses himself into in his video as he moves between oscillating backdrops and different coloured environments.
Well Drake if you think you got away with it then think again. Turrell knows what you are up to...
‘While I am truly flattered to learn that Drake fucks with me, I nevertheless wish to make clear that neither I nor any of my woes was involved in any way in the making of the hotline bling video’.
Image source: https://nl.pinterest.com/explore/james-turrell/
All in all, even though it wasn’t an official collaboration, one must admit that it is refreshing to see two completely different worlds in music and art come together in one four minute rap video. Being Drake’s first top ten hit in over two years, let’s hope he keeps his artistic juices flowing and continues to be inspired by the arts. Maybe give Mr. Turrell a little bit more credit though Draky boy!
Written by Paris based, freelance writer Joanna Reid for The Public House of Art