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Video Picks: Shiro’s Story and Modern Musicals

Ernesto Ortiz Delgado

Insights Tutor

In this Video Pick, Ernesto introduces Rapman and the ways in which contemporary music videos are using musical formats in order to tell a story.

Unless you have been living under a rock or unaware of YouTube, you likely came across one of the most creative and watched video series of 2018; ‘Shiro’s Story’. This film production used the unconventional method of presenting a three-part story as a music video, which could be considered as a modern-day musical. Referring to Rapman’s series as a musical helps to express how music videos are used as a method of communicating a story, and can be tied to the influence from traditional musicals.

‘Shiro’s Story’ is about a young man caught up in gangs, drugs and violence. This life has taken its toll and now Shiro wants out… but not without a few complications along the way. Created by Rapman, most of Shiro’s on-screen life is being told through Rap music; an ingenious way of demonstrating that music and music videos don’t have to be one dimensional.

Video Caption: ‘Shiro’s Story’ (2018) Rapman. Courtesy of LinkUP TV, via YouTube.

Part one is split into two musical acts, with both acts explaining Shiro’s ongoing situation. What makes this story so magnetic, is the seamless transition between the actors playing out the onscreen drama and the music video. Both methods are equally powerful in conveying the narrative that the viewer eagerly anticipates. As someone who is constantly listening to music, I know my feelings and emotions change depending on what I’m listening to, similarly to watching a film or drama series.

There is a transition between two forms of narrative technique that makes this series so successful. Rapman’s use of musical interludes transports us away from the bubble created by the actors, to emphasise the emotion felt on-screen. The dialogue between the two characters (Shiro and Kyle) resonates with us when sound is absent, but the same feat can be achieved when the music returns; our emotions, opinions and feelings change with the addition or subtraction of music. 

The use of clever puns, gritty poetry and masterful lyricism make the story so much more interesting and entertaining, making it a prime example for someone who wants to create a drama series, but also wants to heighten their audiences’ viewing experience with the use of music. Each and all of the components above make this production relevant to date, but also place a spotlight on scenarios that we may overlook day to day.

In total, the three-part story racked an impressive 17.8 Million YouTube views. Rapman since has been rewarded with a recording and production deal from Roc Nation. This could lead to bigger and better production, not only from Rapman himself, but also anyone who is creatively inspired by the series.

Check out Ernesto’s other recommended film and TV influences utilising music:

How I Met your Mother: Season 5, Episode 12

Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007, Cert 18). Timecode: 18:05

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