Greg Ohrel Interview: SHOTS
Gregory Ohrel: Provocateur with purpose
Kicking off January’s Music Video Focus, Selena Schleh speaks to Gregory Ohrel, whose brutal, incendiary and stimulative promo for Puerto Rican rapper Residente’s protest track, This Is Not America, provoked deeper thought on the nature of nationalism.
Once every few years, a music video comes along that gets the whole world talking. In 2018, that video was Childish Gambino’s This Is America.
Shocking, original, and smart, it juxtaposed casual violence with layers of symbolism to spotlight institutionalised racism in the US. It’s apt, then, that this year’s most talked-about music video – for Puerto Rican rapper Residente’s track, This Is Not America – is a sequel and riposte to the original provocative promo.
It is similarly laden with retina-searingly brutal imagery but while its forerunner focused on the Black experience, This is Not America targets US imperialism and the way the country has systematically exploited and oppressed Latin America – right down to the level of language. You can practically feel the steam coming off Residente as he raps about the arrogance of conflating ‘America’ with the United States, when in reality, it “extends from Tierra del Fuego to Canada.”
“People have been extremely proud, and moved, to see their countries represented.”