When it comes to any sort of heartbreak—no matter its cause—it can be difficult to find the proper way to express or release this flood of emotions. In his new Femi Ladi-directed "What Have You Done" video, Zimbabwe-born British artist KWAYE uses choreography to not only express himself but also help take a step forward in the healing process.
"What Have You Done" is a sentimental track, but that doesn't mean it can't also be upbeat. Instead of perfectly matching the tone of the lyrics, the production creates a contrast—inviting listeners to dance through their pain rather than sulking in it. However the pain KWAYE sings about isn't just another romantic heartbreak. It's far deeper than that. The heartache come from generational trauma and pain, which he aimed to represent throughout his new video.
"The video for 'What Have You Done' is about rediscovering identity," KWAYE explains. "Through the movement and styling, we wanted to create a visual world where various parts of the African Diaspora melded together. Each of the three looks is a reference to three different points in western black history that I never discovered in my western school books."
KWAYE continues, explaining the significance of each color: "The nude colors refer to colors worn on the plantations before slavery’s abolition in the US; the green and yellow outfits reference black music in the 70s, and the crossover/emergence of hip-hop in New York from funk and disco; the final looks are inspired by the global movement of black bodies in the 40s - from the Second Great Migration across the US, to the Windrush Generation which bought a wave of Caribbeans to the UK. African-inspired contemporary movement is the common denominator of all the different shots in the video, just as Africa is the root of black histories."
Watch the video above.