In the past year, The Signal, All Def Digital’s weekly show that acts as an artist accelerator platform, has served up a smorgasbord of rap-centric programming, featuring every sub-genre of rap imaginable, from backpack rap to trap to trippy psychedelic rap, from a diverse selection of artists, ranging from those who are stereotypical in their aesthetic, to femcees, to psychedelic loving hipsters with a particularly hallucinogenic brand of hip hop. Nonetheless, The Signal hasn’t offered up anything quite like Frank Leone and his “Elephant” video yet.
We’ve seen the tired rhetoric of a lone rapper walking through dark woods (with or without a weapon), whilst dropping angst-ridden bars over an ominous soundscape before. But we haven’t seen Frank Leone, calmly channeling an unapologetically darker version of King Arthur in The Sword & the Stone, do it before…until now, with his visuals for “Elephant.”
Everything about “Elephant” conveys simplistic minimalism to the point of forceful juxtaposition, with the visuals conjuring up an eerie sense of foreboding, despite an initially underwhelming superficial banality. During those first few moments, it isn’t cinematic fanfare that grabs your attention, and it’s not the music either; it’s the artist himself. Leone raps from the primordial womb; a place that at first glance, is anxiety-inducing, because it is heavily cloaked in a bleak, black darkness, that’s not conducive to foreshadowing; it’s the unknown in its pure, most unadulterated form: the infinite possibility of creation. His power as an artist lies not in the basic ability of being louder than the beat he’s rapping over, rudely interrupting the euphoria-inducing feeling of a dope record with an obnoxiously loud delivery; nor is it in littering the record with ad-libs to the point of ad-nauseum; it’s actually in his quietly climactic delivery, punctuated with urgency and subtle nuances of raw animalistic aggression. The kid doesn’t need the grandiose theatrics that come with full-out energy expenditure; he doesn’t need to bothered with going into beast mode to show he’s a beast. He raps with an unassuming authority and a calm, unsettling confidence that makes this rap sh*t look easy. He carries himself with such a sinister nonchalance that you almost get the impression it’d be nothing for him to eat your favorite rapper for breakfast and spit them right back out as effortlessly as he’s spitting these bars while silently stalking through some creepy-ass woods with a unbothered air of predatory menace; perhaps to maybe do some Illuminati sh*t, so he can be up next.
“Elephant” is Frank Leone’s grand caveat that he is the elephant in the room: He will not be ignored, and you gon’ learn today. Watch the video above, and let us know what you think.