Petite Noir Forges a Vision of “Noirwave” Africa in Gorgeous “Best” Video


Petite Noir, aka Yannick Ilunga, has shared a breathtaking new video off his anticipated first LP, La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful, which is out September 11. The musician, who’s self-described his work as “Noirwave” — combining New Wave influences with his South African upbringing — has teamed with director Travys Owen and art director Rochelle Nembhard to visualize his conceptions of the movement in the video. In an interview alongside his friend Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), he’d ambitiously stated that Noirwave “is going to be the new pop culture. Soon Beyoncé, Future and all these people are going to be singing to Noirwave shuffles.”

For a further idea of his vision, the Belgian-born/Cape Town raised artist said in an interview with Vice:

[It’s] about being yourself and combining all of your influences, which sounds super simple and clichéd but most people find that really difficult. So everyone cannot be Noirwave. For me, it’s blending where I was born in Europe with my African heritage and ethnicity… I am what I am and the output is through my music. I’m influenced by metal, screamo, jazz, kizomba music… there’s no loyalty to any existing genre.

According to a press release, the video for “Best” explores notions of Africa’s “split identity; how incredibly and indescribably beautiful it is on the one hand, yet on the other hand, how raw and unforgiving it can be.” Nembhard’s aim for the music video was to “break all boundaries in how [they] portrayed the continent.”

Travys said of the video:

We wanted to make 4 distinct ‘tribes’ of people. This allowed us to create the visual journey that Yannick is on, running through all of these different landscapes, and allowed us to create these rich scenes which were very different from each other. The four main elements in the video are Fire, Malachite (earth/rock), Water and Gold. The video is about Yannick’s journey through all of these landscapes meeting all of these different tribes.

On top of all that, the song itself is completely unmissable, with its furious horns and percussion punctuating a chorus reminiscent of The Cure’s bleakest tracks.

The video’s release also came with an announcement that Ilunga would be performing at Brooklyn’s AfroPunk Festival on August 23, in advance of the release of La Vie Est Belle/Life is Beautiful, whose album art is pictured above.

Watch “Best”: