Song Title: Rain On Me
Album: Chapter II
Dir: Hype Williams Premiere: August 28 2003
I do not own any of the videos/screenshots from the videos posted here. All copyrights belong to: (C) 2003 M.I. Records, LLC.
Licensed to YouTube: UMG (on behalf of I.G. Records, Inc./Universal Records); SOLAR Music Rights Management, LatinAutor, CMRRA, EMI Music Publishing, UBEM, LatinAutor - UMPG, Sony ATV Publishing, UMPG Publishing, LatinAutor - SonyATV, ASCAP, UMPI, and 7 Music Rights Societies
**I'm not a photography/film/lighting specialist. I'm just analyzing a video as a regular person watching it, With only a fraction remaining of what I was taught during Media production in sixth form to fall back on**
First and foremost, I love Ashanti! Her contributions to music, especially what she accomplished in the early 2000s are severely underrated but those that know, know. Her first album was my soundtrack for a very long time and is a modern day classic, period. But 'Chapter II' is what legitimized her place amongst the established R&B singer/songwriters of the time and proved that she was more than a hook singer or one hit wonder. To me, she was the perfect fusion of R&B with rap influence.
'Rain On Me' was such a stand out track, I think even beside her previous album discography and collaborations. It's one of my favourite songs to date and probably my favourite Ashanti song ever. Maybe it was the sample/production or maybe just the subject matter, either way it was a beautifully, painful song that so many of us could relate to. Or maybe it was the union between the song and the visuals. I've mentioned this before on my site when reviewing music videos, that I love when the two marry each other perfectly. It's what makes the song more likable and memorable, and from a business or financial aspect, it encourages record sales which in turn encourages tour sales etc.
So, let's talk about the video.
I only realized while researching, that there were in fact three accompanying music videos for the song. Not completely different from each other but I'm sure created for different audiences and platforms.
I remember watching it as a young teenager and always being mesmerized whenever it would play on the music video channels. For various reasons, it never failed to capture my attention. I had only ever seen the main version (performance version) up until last week, so I'll only be talking about that one but I appreciated the cinematic feel it had and the themes of domestic emotional and physical abuse, infidelity and jealousy that were displayed, were pushed to the forefront of my mind. Not that I had necessarily experienced it or could fully relate, but that's usually what incredible visuals with authentic stories are able to do -capture the viewer regardless of relation or experience. So shout out to Hype Williams and his contributions to making most of our favourite classics come to life!
My favourite thing about the aesthetics is the juxtaposition of light and dark in the video. Lighting was definitely key here (and a hell of a lot of airbrushing) in order to tell this particular story. For example, the scene in which they're arguing around the house, if you notice, all the accent lights are on yet there is still a dark element.
Also the scene when they're on the red carpet, the flashes from the paparazzi's cameras illuminate the space but it's almost as if the scene was shot at night because again, the dark hue is undeniable.
In fact, all the scenes that make up this mini movie appear to be filmed at night or a night time atmosphere hence the heavy use of cinematic lighting, I suspect.
I think also light and dark is used here to highlight the villain and victim in the story, but also switch things up by blacking out the victim at times, in this case Ashanti's character, perhaps a visual representation of how dark and depressing a female's state of mind would be, going through this kind of torture. (see the scene when they are arguing).
There's one portion of the video that's quite unsettling, when Larenz Tate's Andre character is in the bathroom (2:54-2:59 in the performance video) where the light fades out while he's staring at himself in the mirror and we see a dim light emanating from where his pupil's should be and his face distorts for about a millisecond. Now, I'm not completely positive that it was an intentional shot but doesn't it fit so well with the narrative of him being the villain here?
If you follow Hype Williams' work closely, you'll already know what he is able to create with lighting, slow motion and deep focus actions. Hello?! we've all seen his film noir 'Belly' right? The man developed more than one signature style while simultaneously creating new ones. Iconic!
I guess the most obvious yet subtle thing about the video is the fact that it's raining throughout. I say subtle, because it feels like the rain is just part of the backdrop, perhaps like the arguing and fighting and abuse. You barely hear it in the video but it's clear that it's there and it doesn't seem to let up, it just keeps pouring down - like torrential rain, which further enhances the idea that this is truly how Ashanti's character, or a female going through this feels consistently. As if there is no end in sight at times. In typical video format the video ends by fading to black leaving a somber ending but also a glimpse of hope, as we see her leave a toxic situation behind her.
But the best thing of all to come from all this is the awareness that was created. She joined forces with LidRock and Family Violence Prevention Fund based in San Francisco to do so during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, circulating the video on various music channels and music video programming. Also, proceeds from the LidRock discs were given to the fund.