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24 Who is Kahlil Joseph, director of choice for Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Kenzo?

Who is Kahlil Joseph, director of choice for Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Kenzo?


Director of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” video, Kahlil Joseph questions Afro-American identity through sensational music videos and is now collaborating with Terrence Malik and Kenzo on their spring-summer 2017 campaign.

“m.a.a.d” by Kahlil Joseph

Discovered by Kendrick Lamar


It was his short film “Until the Quiet Comes” for the group Flying Lotus, that first brought Khalil Joseph to Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar's attention. In this first film the director honed in on a hotspot for gang warfare and trafficking, the notorious Nickerson Gardens. Without any filters he portrayed the different communities living in the neighbourhood through a succession of shots, view points and characters in a sort of amateur video slash documentary. A visual and urban melting pot that instantly seduced Kendrick Lamar, who asked him to make a video for his album “Good kid, m.A.A.d city” released in 2012. With this video, shown throughout the “Yeesus” tour, Kahlil Joseph continued his mission to portray the Afro-American community in a just and realistic manner, free of the clichés that tend to stick.

“Video Girl” FKA Twigs

From FKA Twigs to Terrence Malik


Kahlil Joseph continues his career in music, but is keen not to be confined to one status only. Taking a stance and political point of view systematically enters his cinematic creations. A good example of this is the video for FKA Twigs’s  “Video Girl”, as impactful as it is disturbing, taking place in an American prison with a death row detainee being administered a lethal injection. His projects have led to collaborations with big names on the art scene such as Terrence Malik for whom he directed the ‘making of’ for “To My Wonder”. The legendary director has had a clear influence on Kahlil’s work as seen in his visual epic “Lemonade” by Beyoncé, which also pays a vibrant tribute to David Lynch’s aesthetic.

"Music is my mistress” Kenzo campaign spring-summer 2017

A foot in the door of fashion for Kenzo


The list of projects doesn’t stop there and at the start of the year the director made a 12-minute film on the house of Kenzo’s spring-summer 2017 collection. It’s a poetic fable starring on the activist and actor Jesse Williams, actress Tracee Ellis Ross and singer Kelsey Lu. The short film embodies everything that makes Khalil Joseph’s signature: rapid succession of shots, alternating rhythms and a powerful soundtrack by Shabazz Palace, the hip hop crew with a serious flow. Described by Kenzo as a “geometrically variable film”, it fuses genres while displaying the director's entire artistic palette. In an interview with American media The Fader, he confirmed he’d love to work with other designers like Martin Margiela and Dries Van Noten.

“Hold Up” Beyoncé

From music videos to contemporary art


Kahlil Joseph's videos and short films aren’t just destined to life of repetition on MTV and have caught the eye of various museums and galleries including the MoCA in Los Angeles. In 2015 the contemporary art museum exhibited the director’s first short film “m.a.a.d” through different video installations in an attempt to question the link between music videos, amateur videos and realist cinema. The scenography consisted of two big screens onto which the film was projected, reminiscent of the "Double Consciousness” or “Double-conscience” concept of sociologist and historian W.E.B Du Bois who highlighted the dual identities of the black American population, attempting to accept itself as both American and African. An identity crisis that’s hard to highlight but when linked to a powerful hip hop scene and incisive directing, can reach a wide audience. Exactly what Kahlil Joseph excels at...  


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