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[Visual Analysis] Dana Dane- Nightmares

When I was  13 or 14 years old, I found an old box of my father’s which contained a couple of casette tapes. One of the tapes was Realms N Reality by Cella Dwella’s, which I still bumped Freshman year of  college in my cherry red Pontiac Grand Am, and the rest were a couple of mix tapes. I’m not going to front like I remember every song that was on those mixtapes, mostly a bunch of classic cuts from the 80’s, but I do remember Nightmares by Dana Dane. I probably can’t remeber the rest of the tracks because I had this one on repeat all night long the first time I heard it. Lyrics? Sick. One of the things that makes an emcee great is their ability to take an average scenario and turn it into a lyrical masterpiece and Dana Dane does that with this one, flawlessly. Beat? Fresh. I already think the theme song to The Munster’s goes hard as it is so the sample just does it for me.  I was surprised to find this  gem was available on youtube and more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed watching it. Premiering circa 1985, one year before my birth, this video represents everything I love about the golden age of hip hop. It plays out like something that could’ve been produced by my high school theatre arts squad, and it’s in that aspect that it holds the greatest appeal. Low on sophisticated camera techinques, but heavy on style and charm, this video would smash anything out right now. Dana Dane takes you on a journey both lyrically and visually, the hallmark of any great video. While nowadays some artists come out with a video that has nothing to do with the song and everything to do with their fashion sense, I actually felt as if I was watching Dana’s nightmare unfold before my eyes. Throughout , there are several diagnol lines created by various objects within the frame, the door as he enters into the doctor’s office, the armour he lays down on to recount the tales of his beastly stalker, the angle at which the three back-up ‘singers’ are shot during the chorus. Diagnol lines within a shot serve to create a feeling of disorientation, hence the setting of a nightmare. That’s television and film 101, a little something I picked up in college. The smoke machine is a trusted standby for creating an eerie atmosphere, is it just vapor or a ghostly presence?  The colored lighting is  icing on the cake , an impressionistic touch enhancing the surreal nature of the experience. There are plenty of great shots as well, Dana Dane writhing on a neon hued floor, blue suede shoes ditty bopping down a dimly lit hallway, and the beastly chick blowing in his face is classic. The party sequence is a   highlight for me, the way the crowd converges and disperses along with his narrative creatively provides continuity. His three back-up’s are a haunting vision, all ethereal tones and shadows, another punctuation in his conceptual dreamscape. Watching this video 24 years after it was originally released, I can’t help but take note of it’s nostaligic qualities. Seeing dudes actually dance is kind of cool as are  the after school special graphics. You don’t need a big budget when you’re that nice with it.

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