Hip hop is a global phenomenon. It has long outgrown its roots in the US hoods, and has become a dominant musical force in countries all over the world. The Netherlands are no exception: there is a vibrant and extensive scene of local hip hop artists. In the Dutch polders, they can rival the genre’s international stars for popularity, album sales and YouTube views.


But hip hop is more than a musical genre. It is an attitude and a protest, an ideology and an industry, a fashion trend and a provocation, a vision and a vibe. All those elements intersect in the music videos of hip hop artists: each of those miniature movies is an expression of the genre’s creed and ambitions. That makes these music videos an interesting object of (audiovisual) studies.


Dutch film student Rowan Sonneville has lovingly crafted an expansive video essay that looks at the aspirations and inspirations of Dutch hip hop artists. His fondness for and knowledge of the genre are obvious when he lays out the history of hip hop in the Netherlands. But Sonneville also administers some tough love when he asks just how original these artists’ music videos are. What is lost when the conventions of American hip hop music videos are transplanted to urban settings in Holland?

This video essay illustrates how hip hop music videos like to poach each other’s style, visuals and even locations. In some cases the reason for this mimicry appears to be financial in nature: copycatting as cost cutting. Sonneville intercuts music videos that are brazen copies of one another, filmed on the same soundstage with the same set – only applying a different color grading.


There’s nothing wrong per se with artists channelling the same vibe through similar visuals. But this video essay legitimately asks if the intrinsic meaning that those stylistic inclinations and urban locations had in the original American music videos are lost in the Dutch recreations. Does this turn the genre’s powerful provocations into nothing more than a visual gimmick?


Sonneville addresses many different aspects of hip hop music videos – from their rampant sexism to the financial aspects of their production. His affection for the genre (and his tolerance of its lewdness) shines through when he tackles some topics – his tongue in cheek approach of the subject of sexism comes to mind. But to his credit, he is also criticizing his own output and questioning his own praxis. Because Rowan Sonneville directed five of the music videos that make an appearance in his video essay. He shows the intellectual honesty of also using his own work as examples of the stylistic clichés of the genre. That, and the sheer volume of examples gathered in this video essay, make this a remarkable inside look at Dutch hip hop.

This video essay includes music and clips from these music videos:


6IX9INE – Billy
50 Cent feat. Snoop Dogg – P.I.M.P. (Snoop Dogg Remix)
New Wave – No Go Zone
New Wave – No Go Zone (Instrumental)
A$AP Rocky – Praise The Lord
Abel – Achmed Akkabi (prod. Jimmy De Ville)
Bizzey X Ronnie Flex X $hirak – Maria
Boef – Habiba (prod. MB)
Boef – Hosselen (prod. Southbeats)
Boef – Lauw (prod. Harun B)
Boef – Paperchase (prod. Southbeats)
Boef feat. Sevn Alias – Slapend rijk (prod. Fraasie)
Boef feat. JoeyAK, Young Ellens & Sevn Alias – SVP
Bouzzy – Hayati (prod. Fraasie)
Brainpower – Dansplaat
Braz feat. MocroManiac, Fresku, Pietju Bell & Killer Kamal – Testosteronbommen
Broederliefde – Officieel (prod. Soundflow)
Broederliefde – Tizora (prod. Spanker)
Broederliefde – Hard Work Pays Off
Broederliefde – Hard Work Pays Off  (Instrumental)
Broederliefde – Live op Lowlands 2016
Broertje feat. Josylvio – Ik Leef  (prod. K3vs)
Coely – Hush
Dopebwoy feat. Yxng Bane – Santo Domingo (prod. SRNO)
Dopebwoy – Trophies (prod. Spanker)
Drake – In My Feelings
Dusty – Don’t (prod. FNMLAS)
Extince – Spraakwater
Fakkelbrigade – Colucci
Frenna & Diquenza – Walk Away (International Remix)
Fresku – Arme Zielen (prod. Sam A La Bamalot)
Hamza – Je m’évade
Henkie T feat. KM – Jealous Op Me Life (Prod.DeibyTun)
Jacin Trill – kandycush (prod. 808milli)
Jacin Trill – rozeswoesh (prod. 808milli)
Jairzinho feat Snelle – Zegen (Prod. Nigel Hey)
Jayh feat. Josylvio, Mario Cash, Vic9 & Ev – Regular
Jevv – JBL Sessie (Prod. Amadeus)
Joey Bravo – Abu Dhabi (prod. Darro)
JoeyAK feat. Bright, De Drecht – Holendrecht Anthem
Jong Flai – Trip
Jonna Fraser feat. Youngbaekansie – Come Thru
Kevin feat. Crooks – Wazig (Prod. Whiteboy)
KingCaid – Overwegen
Laylo – Glockies & Pyjamas
Lijpe – Jackpot (prod. Chievva)
Lil Kleine – Vakantie (prod. Jack $hirak)
Lil Kleine & Ronnie Flex – Drank & Drugs
Lil Kleine & Ronnie Flex – Zeg Dat Niet
Lil Kleine & Ronnie Flex – Zeg Dat Niet (Single Edit Instrumental)
Lil Mosey – Noticed (Dir. by @_ColeBennett_)
Mick Spek – Ze Ziet Me Niet
Migi feat. Wez-A – Drillers 
Migi – Zone 85
Momi – Fuck De Trap (prod. Whiteboy)
Murda feat. Ice & Yung Felix – Pistola 
Opgezwolle – Verre Oosten
Post Malone – Go Flex
Ray Fuego – Briesje
Ronnie Flex feat. Tabitha – Is Dit Over
S10 feat. Jayh – Hoop (prod. JasonXM & Sim Fane)
SBMG feat. Navi – Drop Top (prod. Jimmy Huru)
SBMG – Oeh Na Na
Sevn Alias feat. Jason Futuristic, BKO & Jairzinho – Gass
SFB, Ronnie Flex, Lil Kleine & Bokoesam – Investeren in de Liefde
Smokepurpp – Ski Mask
Souff – Habibti
The Blockparty & Esko feat. Mouad Locos, JoeyAK – Huts
The Game feat. Drake – 100
Two Crooks & Frenna – Meisjes Blijven Meisjes
Veldentaal feat. Jandro – Belangrijk
Youssef en Kamal – Woensel Bitch
Yung Nnelg – Diamonds & Pearls
Yung Nnelg – Forrest Gump
Yung Nnelg – Chamos (prod. Garrincha)


In addition, the video essay features excerpts from these videos:


Behind the Music interview met Kees de Koning
FunX Music Awards 2016 Best Album, New Wave
New Wave – de documentaire