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Left Field and Afrika Bambaataa -

Africa Shox

Artist: Leftfield ft. Afrika Bambaataa
Track: Afrika Shox
Genre: Electronic/Acid House/ Dance/ Hip-hop/ Horror/ Noir
Released: 6th of September 1999
Directed by: Chris Cunningham

Noir lighting is used to suggest the dim and faded life of the black man as
he is struggling to cope with his life and is slowly disappearing off the face
of the Earth. This also links to one of the genres of noir as is effectively
used with the use of chiaroscuro lighting.
The police cars in the beginning have lights flashing which connotes a club
like effect which link to the genre of the track which is dubstep and hip
hop which is a party themed
There are even more flashing lights which continue to shine throughout
the music video to keep the genres to the beat and suggest people
dancing in a club which is what the track is designed to do.
Mise En Scene

The combination of noir lighting, geometric buildings, police sirens and the expressionless faces on
the streets of Manhattan suggest a dystopia.
The car park which the black male walks through connotes alienation and it is isolated which again,
shows the world he is living in is separate from him as a human and there is no one there to help
him. The African/American man is an opposite to the white business man who is reading the
newspaper. This shot emphasises the racial tensions and particularly racial inequality in New York.
The buildings which are used in the music video hard and standing tall which makes them looks
fake and also computerised which is surreal and its as if the black man is in a daze or dream which
has become a reality.
The black male wears a dog tag and from this, theres is an interpretation that he couldve been a
veteran from the Vietnam war which is established from the time the video was set and New York
suggests the return of veterans from the war and this black man has been mistreated and seen as a
failure as the Americans failed to secure victory in this war. Another interpretation could be that
hes a metaphor for slavery and he is scowled upon by middle class white males and seen as a
nobody compared to them. This could also be backed up by this being a horror story and the
sightless bulging eyes of the staggering black man suggests danger and fear which has been
established by the overall look of neglect of the black man.
In the car park there are white street dancers with a stereo which shows the hip hop and dub step
which originates from black children in New York. So this shows that his identity is being stolen and
he doesnt have another identity so is fading away from society.
Camera Shots
The opening shot is an establishing/ low angle panning shot
of the twin towers which is used to suggest status of wealth
and power between the different ethnicities and the black
man is stuck at the bottom of the chain, looking up at the
other dominant classes.
There is a panning shot to bowels of the city which is
similar to the sewer scene in the third man which shows a
darkened and claustrophobic space.
There is a point of view shot (0.41) which is used to show
the black male to be confused and disorientated which
reinforces the struggle of the black veteran who has
returned from the Vietnam war who no longer fits into
There is a lot of intertextuality throughout the Africa Shox music video which can also link to the different
genres of the films identified.
For example New York is seen as a dystopia in this music video and is also seen in the Carol Reed film The
Third Man. The dystopia is a nightmare looking state of New York just like Vienna was after the war. This
also links to the genre of noir as there is chiaroscuro lighting used in both with many black and white
The beginning of Once Upon A Time in America is an inter textual reference in Africa Shox because the
music video is dark, bleak and a damaged place where it is unsafe to be for certain ethnic origins where
they are vulnerable. This is similar to the film because Eve was killed right at the start and the locations in
America are disillusioned and the places are dreary and again, damaged.
The black male wears a dog tag which is difficult to spot but it indicates that he has returned from the
Vietnam war and it shows the lack of respect and support they receive upon their return which is used to
show audiences that it is real and actually happening within the streets of New York which is to make
people aware of the disrespect veterans have who put their lives at risk for their country.
Within the video, there is a reference to colonialism where the white dancers have stolen the black
ethnicities dance moves. The break dancing on the street with a stereo derives from black kids in New York
and as the black male stumbles on by, a part of his body has been smashed by the white dancers, showing
their power and dominance over him.
Dystopia in Once Upon a Time In America and Africa Shox
Dog tag with reference to Vietnam
Lyrics To Visuals
One of Goodwins theories is that the lyrics need to link to visuals and in
this music video, they are identified with the lyrics electrified and the
visuals are the black mans hand on wired fence. An electric fence is used
which shows the visuals as electric. Electric fences are related to being
around prisons to stop prisoners escaping and also in the war,
concentration camps had electronic fences which connotes that the man
is trapped in a slaves body who cannot escape from his harsh reality.
Electric fences are also used to cage in many animals as it stops them from
escaping as they can be a danger to the public. This can suggest that he is
being separated from the rest of society as he cannot be trusted and is a
liability to more important people such as middle class white men.
In the war times, concentration camps were used to trap the lower class
people which portrays that the black protagonist in this music video is of
lower class and is closed off from the rest of the world and is not good
enough to join society again.

Genre To Visuals And Lyrics
Another one of Goodwins theory of music videos is
having genre characteristics with visuals which is
shown when shots and mise en scene are used in the
music video such as the police cars that are used with
their lashing lights and sirens as they link to the genre
of hip hop and dub step which are a couple of the
genres identified in this music video.
Another theory is that lyrics link to genre and this is
identified when the lyrics say lets get electrified which
shows the genre to be electronic and party anthem in
clubs and getting electrified refers to electronic tracks.
It suggests lets get electrified and rave and party to
the beat.

Ideology and representation : who is the African?
The first interpretation is that the black male is a zombie like character represents the times of
struggle for the African American male in New York. The rags look similar to the slaves and the
green jacket with dog tag connotes mistreatments of black soldiers after return to America from
Vietnam. The video goes against the March Of Progress idea that since the liberation, life has
become a struggle for the black man and it will continue to happen and there will be no justice. The
zombie-like African is shown to be non human and an alien thus reinforcing the racist attitudes
of white Americans for example the Klu Klux Klan. If somebody is regarded as non human
then it is easy to abuse or destroy them as the African is at the end of the music video.

Another interpretation is the African man is a metaphor for slavery. Slaves arrived off the ships
blinded by the sun, crippled, half naked and disorientated. dark deck is slavery is a quote from
the poem Limbo which references to the African Americans arriving back from the war and
being used for the needs of others.
Image from the poem
Limbo and the
African American in
Africa Shox, linking to
Ideology and representation : who is the African?
Another interpretation comes from some statistics about the Vietnam war. The dog tag the black
man wears along with the look of him and his actions, these statistics can be a fitting interpretation
of his character:
Vietnam veteran - 14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks. 34% of blacks who
enlisted volunteered for the combat arms. Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam
at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population.

All of these interpretations inform the ideology of the music video and is expressed to the
audiences of this video. There is a more sympathetic representation of the African in comparison to
the white newspaper reader and other New Yorkers who ignore him as if he doesnt exist suggests
the anti racist ideology of Left Field, and the name of the band is a clue to their ideology which in
this music video suggests a left wing socialist agenda. Mixing Pop And Politics is a way of bringing
together activists and artists who strive to articulate that better world through argument and song.
This music video by Left Field is a chance to raise awareness and to make you feel emotional
towards the African American and things can change if we accept other ethnic people and make
them feel welcome in societies across American and in fact in many other countries.