Part of the Dawn Raid family, Ill Semantics were a hip hop trio who had some pretty good singles. “Watching You” was based around a sample of Ardijah’s 1988 single “Watchin’ U”. (It tickles me that Ill Semantics ironed out the Princely spelling for the remake.)
The Ill Semantics video seems to take a little inspiration from Ardijah’s original, which saw the band playing in a smoky bar. But director Sophie Findlay take things further into a film noir world, with celeb cameos galore.
The video starts with a femme fatale (played by K’Lee!) hiring a private investigator Patriarch to find something in a safety deposit box. At the club, the detective’s partner, Nemesis, is on the case, as Betty-Anne is introduced on stage by Oscar Kightley.
And there begins a world of sideways glances, gunshots, fainting, car chases, tussles, snogs, and an undercover cop played by Robbie Magasiva.
In the end, K’Lee is arrested, Nemesis goes home with the hot cop leaving bar man DJ CXL and detective Patriarch at the bar. It’s way too much of a happy ending to make a satisfying ending, but for a music video, it’s ok.
Best bit: the role of the safety deposit box is played by a post office box.
Note: The video was on YouTube, but it’s since been taken down. But I’ve found it on this random other site.
Director: Sophie Findlay
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Next… vintage telephony.