David Dean Burkhart

I’ve come to a certain realization while working on a forthcoming feature on Kenyan music videos from the 2000s for Bottom Line Kenya. Sure, Kenyan music videos have greatly improved in technical quality, thanks to the increased availability and gradual decrease in the costs of equipment. That being said, these newer and slicker videos seem to have plateaued in terms of creativity. Generally speaking, everybody seems to be doing the exact same thing over and over and over again. Very few local music vids today can hold a candle to older classics such as Kalamashaka’s Fanya Mambo, Swahili Nation’s Hakuna Matata,  or Nairobi Yetu’s All Over The World.

For the most part, local music videos have merely become just another generic vehicle to push an artist’s brand onto TV and web platforms. They are now more of an mechanical rather than an artistic exercise. It has become more beneficial to push a ton of bad – average music videos within a year than to invest more on fewer videos for the best tracks. As a result, less emphasis is placed upon video editing – the final step of a process that could transform an otherwise bland or overused concept into a unique and amazing work of art.

Speaking of editing, David Dean Burkhart demonstrates all the benefits of a good editor with a proper understanding of a concept and how it works together with the music. David makes alternative or unofficial video edits of indie, lo-fi and chill music for his YouTube channel. The source material for the visual side of his edits: clips from classic films, home video footage, advertisements and other random oldie goldies. His editing has an awesome way of enhancing every aspect of a song, letting it bleed emotion, and transporting the viewer to another time and place. Here are some of his best ones:

From Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation (1988).

Soul Train! That last kick at the end is precious.

Who knew hip hop culture was alive and kicking in Iran ’91?

From Holy Flame of the Martial World (1983). I really want to watch this film now.

Aerobics VHS tapes were a thing. Goofing along to Jane Fonda’s Low Impact workout tape is one of my most distinct childhood memories.

From Jigoku (1960).

A bunch of ads from the 80s and 90s

From Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972). This one is NSFW.

From To the Stars by Hard Ways (1981).



Do It All

This was one of my favourite music videos of 2014. The perfect marriage of sound and visuals for a powerful final product. Off South African label Soul Candi Records, DJ/Producer Nathan Mayor teams up with Justin Chalice on Do It All, a very danceable tribute to persistent and unconquerable love. The awesome animators at Cosmic Onion Ring then come through with an equally rewarding music video. The concept, character designs and universe of the vid instantly reminded me of Kaiba, a mind-blowing and under-appreciated anime from 2008. Check out the trailer and compare.

Eine Kleine

Stumbling upon Goose house some years back has led me to this beautiful J-indie tune by Kenshi Yonezu / Hachi, who’s better known for his vocaloid songs. Not only are his songwriting chops on display here; the guy also created the animation for the music video based on his own illustrations.

Now, cover versions are a dime a dozen but I’ll pick two. Here’s a rework of the video by the Kagerou Project (the musical flipside of the rather bland Mekakucity Actors anime) combined with vocals by LemonTeaBloops:

And here’s the Goose house version:

Drone Bomb Me

For most Kenyans today, the concept of full-scale war and the tragedy that comes with it is still largely abstract to us. Sure, we had a massive flare up of violence in 2008 and potential terror attacks on home soil are now a reality. But the sort of conflict that ripped apart Somalia, the terrible 100 days of Rwanda ’94, the daily death and destruction in Syria and Afghanistan – it all seems so far away. It is difficult to imagine a Nairobi littered with landmines and the CBD a bullet riddled ghost town only inhabited by snipers at the KICC rooftop.

Even more difficult to grasp is the personal trauma that comes with conflict, not just for populations tucked safely away in peaceful countries but also for actual participants, thanks to technological advancements in warfare. The best illustration of this is the USA’s drone strike campaigns. From the comfort of an army base in Cameroon or a ship off the Kenyan coast, US troops can now carry out “targeted killings” of Boko Haram and Al Shabaab elements. The long-term effect of drone strikes in Somalia and West Africa is yet to be established, but studies of this method in Afghanistan reveal that these mini-Hiroshimas end up killing innocent civilians 90% of the time.

ANOHNI’s track transforms the seemingly detached exercise of drone strikes into a deeply personal event, capturing the moment when the unintended target and the drone lock eyes at the very last second before the trigger is pulled.


Forget Beyoncé’s Grown Woman or Yemi Alade’s Sugar. This banger by Sally Boss Madam is the definitive Afro-psychedelic music video of recent times; at least since Angelique Kidjo’s Agolo. I believe Rumbasa refers to a musical subgenre that blends elements of rumba, kwasa kwasa, soukus and house.

There’s something really, REALLY sexy about the Rumbasa video but in a different way from the norm. Stereotypical roles are reversed and this time it is a bunch of physically fit, half-naked men that get told what to do. Some really good dancing and amazing guitar riffs ensures that there’s enough of everything to go around. Kickass scriptwriting by Lovisa Mungu.


I genuinely envy those listening to BANKS for the very first time. Nothing beats the first time. You’ll probably remember it for a long time. I remember mine – a random night in September 2014, sprawled across a half-lit living room with a bunch of friends. Someone had sneaked in her London EP right in the middle of a 3 hour long playlist so it hit us without warning. Those vocals, simply amazing. Nobody moved till those four songs were over.

Better quickly sums up why BANKS blows my mind (plus the visual treat that is the music video). I think a certain percentage of life is complete with her vinyl records in your possession.

Destroying Ownership, Reducing Waste

Sometime last year, my trusty iPod Touch died on me after a series of unfortunate events. To cut a long story short, the most obvious diagnosis at the time was that the battery had discharged completely and was in need of a replacement. Like all devices with “non-removable” batteries, this is probably one of the worst possible outcomes because I had to involve an expert to get the job done.

Whatever impressions I had that I could just buy a replacement battery and do it myself were quickly shattered. iFixit, the DIY mecca for these things, gave my device a miserable 3/10 score for repairability. The  complicated teardown guide further confirmed my fate – only tech senseis should dare to crack it open.

The way forward was to contact one of the few certified Apple product resellers / service providers in Nairobi to find out the cost of a spare battery + replacement service. The most popular of these resellers, who prided themselves in providing the same facilities and atmosphere as any Apple Store in the world, sent me their reply as follows:

That’s right. According to these jokers, the most logical solution to a dead battery is to throw away the device and buy a brand new one! Never mind that you can get a replacement battery online for as little as $15. My first reaction was outrage. Using the same logic, if your car gets two flat tires, and the most reasonable thing to do would be to make your way back to the showroom and buy another car? Nigga, please!

Outrage then simmered down to a pitiful understanding – this attitude must come from the fact that it’s an Apple product, a premium device meant for people with more than just a few zeros in the bank. A twisted sort of requirement that I, as the owner of a device associated with a certain status, should take the course of action apparently expected of a person with the status currently attributed to me.

Understanding quickly faded into bewilderment. Were these folks just handing me the cold, hard, technical truth? Was this how Apple had designed this device? To be thrown away and completely replaced as soon as possible? Is that the subliminal message my device’s blank screen was meant to relay? Why else did it have to have such complicated and delicate innards that venturing to replace the battery risked damaging other components?

Why would anyone, irrespective of means, condone such waste? On the other hand, when it comes to things technology, aren’t we always throwing away stuff for the next best thing? Not having adequate answers, I resisted the idea of posting a rant about that response. Coming across this VPRO documentary recently is what has inspired me to at least make something out of it.

In The End of Ownership, architect Thomas Rau breaks things down beautifully. Why is it that your grandpa’s ancient vinyl player is in good working order today, while the MP3 player you bought last year is already dead? Why is it that every time a new iPhone is released, barely months after the latest one, it still sells in record numbers?

It’s simple, really. Back in the day, products were modeled around providing solutions and therefore manufacturers invested in functionality, durability and quality. Soon, the manufacturer was confronted with a complication – if everyone has a great product that serves them forever, the market for that product will eventually cease to exist.

Manufacturers dealt with this complication by quickly changing their approach from providing solutions to providing organized, time-sensitive problems. Products now go out of the factory with the expectation that their performance will reduce over time (that window between a Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7) or with the expectation of a certain limited lifespan (reason why light bulbs don’t last too long). The inevitable outcome of this strategy has been the creation of waste as an unintended by-product of consumption.

Thomas Rau proposes a paradigm shift in the manufacturer-consumer relationship from the provision of solutions/problems to the provision of a service. In such a system, the consumer wouldn’t need to buy a product to benefit from its functions. Instead, she would only pay for the service associated with the product. The manufacturer-cum-service-provider, being responsible for the maintenance of the product would take every measure to ensure that it is as efficient and as durable as possible so as not to incur unwanted costs. The manufacturer would also ensure as much of the product as possible is reusable, thereby minimising waste.

Of course, destroying unnecessary requirements of ownership would involve abandoning the extremely strong links between status, power, celebrity and property. That is what I see as the biggest challenge and the most interesting mystery. Imagining a world in which the use of the most efficient products of the highest quality was not necessarily pegged on financial means is pretty hard. Who would allow such awesomeness to exist?  Who in their right mind would allow everyone to have nice things? Epic thoughts right there. The documentary puts it in better words than I’m doing now.

Enjoy the documentary and check out the other great stuff VPRO have to offer on their YouTube channel.