Take a little bad boy glam, add a string of falsetto perfection, blend it into a filmic nonreality, cut jet black with neon color, and stamp it with the exclamation point of a panty-dropping, face-melting guitar solo. In that artistic space, JMSN’s cinematographic marathon, Love 2 U, beams. Like a James Bond intro merging with the Neo-Noir holographic lust of Blade Runner under a cinematic banner where the timelessness of Soul music soundtracks all, his new visuals — directed by girlfriend, actress, and apparent visionary mogul Alexa Demie — are an undertaking of daunting proportions and a vibrant creative achievement.
The visuals open simply enough: hands, a guitar, a face — all JMSN’s. The sound bleeds of that which the Detroit-born renaissance man of blendaline R&B, Neo-Soul, and psychedelic rock has been constructing, refining over the course of a decade or more. Ghostly self-sampling of his own otherworldly high notes backdrop the pace-setting guitar riff. And then, 30 seconds in, the magic of his immersion ensues. Visually and audibly, Love 2 U delves into a space of something both impossibly futuristic and inherently reminiscent. It’s in his untouchable falsetto — in his lime green dyed buzzcut — where a nod towards the quickly emerging soon and the retrofuturistic nature of our moment’s 90’s inheritance thrives. It’s in the fish-net shirts, the sexually fluid movements his body inhabiting the space of the music, and the analogue nature of his instrumental backdrop crashing head-on to a vocal range that only a handful in history have mustered, where memories of those handful — especially Prince — come into play.
Red stage lights give way to a chemical explosion of yellow, gold, and orange smoke. Silhouettes of dancers beltway across the frame, trading stage time with silhouettes, too, of guitars, mysterious women, and JMSN himself crooning his way into the hearts and souls of anyone listening, watching. This scene in particular — which finds its way back to the forefront later in the video — feels pulled from the proud history of James Bond intro segments where shapely figures and sacred geometry kaleidoscope across the screen; where protagonists continuously defeat antagonistic forces, curating sexual tension and vivid visual immersion in one fell swoop.
Next on the color wheel comes blue. JMSN’s eyes and mouth doused in the cool light, the rest of his face cloched in shadow giving rise to the feeling that he is singing from behind a closet door, watching, remarking on whatever it is that’s happening before him. And then, red and pink and purple. JMSN continues smoking a cigarette while the video’s director — JMSN’s girlfriend and undoubtedly, his muse for the track in the first place — Alexa Demie dances in a 10-foot neon-lined martini glass. There’s a feeling of old Vegas or new Miami where neon flamingos fade in and out of our drunken collective consciousness, fueling our vices to the tune of high-toned vocals. It’s encapsulating, but per the pace of the video where the visual scenes flutter in and out while the meditative progression of the music moseys forward, another transition is inbound.
At this point, just three minutes into the video, JMSN’s musical composition exists in a solely instrumental space. He lets his guitar — and to an even greater extent, Alexa Demie’s visual encapsulation of his five-minute closing solo — speak for him. Wearing a wedding white, full-body costume fit for the guitar hero of our times, he fades in and out of more neon, silhouettes, explosions, smoke, and stilettos before coming into the keystone ending scene that leaves anyone watching with at least a lot of feeling for the creative vision behind this all, and perhaps even goosebumps to prove it.
A first thought of reminiscence is Blade Runner. Like Ryan gosling coming face-to-face with a 30-story holographic muse, JMSN — still adorned in white, but now shrouded in pink stage light — stands atop the hips of a positioning female figure much larger than he. Shredding his guitar to pieces, and with it, all of hearts and humanity’s expectations of its Soul singers, JMSN puts a final stamp on the track, cementing himself as one of the most timeless guitar players of our moment; Demie puts a final stamp on the video, cementing herself as more than an actress and emerging creative, but now established in her capacity to create vivacity without boundaries.
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