9 Amazing Hiro Murai-Directed Music Videos Before ‘This Is America’ (Videos)

Murai’s previous collaborators include Earl Sweatshirt, Spoon, St. Vincent and Queens of the Stone Age

Hiro Murai Music Videos

After watching and re-watching the provocative, reference-rich music video for Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” you probably want to know a lot more about its director, Hiro Murai. He’s best known for directing episodes of Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” (earning a first look deal with FX in the process). But he cut his teeth with other music videos that are ALMOST as mind blowing as “This is America.” Here are some of Murai’s greatest hits.

“Signs” (2009) – Bloc Party

This Lynchian trip for the English band Bloc Party is only Murai’s second video. The video’s aggressive editing, grimy color scheme and images of bodies mashed up with disco balls and sound waves hint at the dark places Murai would go to in future videos and in an episode of “Legion.”

“Chum” (2012) – Earl Sweatshirt

This video is a dreamy, noirish look into Earl Sweatshirt’s world, and in our opinion the filmmaking echoes the track’s chorus: “something sinister to it.” 

“Cheerleader” (2012) – St. Vincent

In “Cheerleader,” Annie Clark, aka indie guitarist St. Vincent, becomes a brittle and lifeless museum piece. The song is about breaking free from being a woman put on display on a pedestal, and Murai transforms Clark herself into a perfect metaphor for that fight.

“Smooth Sailing” (2014) – Queens of the Stone Age

This Murai video starts fun and loose before taking a surprisingly violent turn. Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme plays a businessman leading some Asian suits on a drunken night of debauchery. Like the boozy, wild and funky song it’s based on, the camera rigged in front of the actors’ faces gives everything a wobbly, unhinged perspective, but neither are without a little menace and bite.

“Sweatpants” (2014) – Childish Gambino

Another standout collaboration between Murai and Childish Gambino, this one takes a surreal twist to Gambino’s line, “I’m doing me better than you doing you.” Done in what looks like a single take (exactly like “This is America”), the video shows Gambino stumbling through his same life over and over, faced with countless mirror images of himself.

“Do You” (2014) – Spoon

Watch this one to the end. Spoon’s Britt Daniel looks tired and apathetic as he drives past flipped cars, flaming tires and rampant destruction going on just outside his car’s windows. It looks apocalyptic, but the end of the video reveals that it’s massive toddlers creating all the destruction, and he and his passenger just look like two exhausted parents trying to look the other way.

“Gold” (2014) – Chet Faker

Murai has found truly interesting ways to show people just dancing to a song. For Chet Faker’s “Gold,” Murai’s camera is perched on the back of a slow moving car along the center of a long, darkened highway. Three scantily-clad dancers emerge on roller skates from the dark, seeming to just glide along the road.

“Take it There” (2016) – Massive Attack

Actor John Hawkes stars in this gritty, dreary clip. There’s a brilliant moment early on when it looks like Hawkes is about to be mugged by a gang, only for them to all break out into a choreographed dance.

“Black Man In a White World” (2016) – Michael Kiwanuka

Like Earl Sweatshirt’s “Chum,” Murai’s visualized take on this track by guitarist Kiwanuka is a powerful and slightly surreal comment on blackness in America. It starts with solemn black and white shots of empty city streets before revealing a young black boy freely dancing in the street. A fiery car crash happens right in front him as he keeps moving, all before Murai flips the camera and literally turns this kid’s world upside down.