Emmanuel Adjei’s music video for Madonna’s Batuka celebrates Batuque music, which originated in Cape Verde, often called “the birthplace of the slave trade”. The islands, off the West Coast of Africa, were colonised by the Portugese, who tried to stamp out the traditional music.
"The drums were condemned by the Church and taken away from the slaves because it was considered an act of rebellion" reads the title card. But, "the women continued their singing and dancing and the Batuque lives on today."
“Emmanuel Adjei” says trade industry site Promonews, “captures an extraordinary musical gathering,where Madonna pays homage to and performs with the all-female Orquestra Batukadeiras, guardians the Capa Verdean musical and dance tradition of batuque.”
The singers also feature in Madonna’s Madame X Tour concerts, bringing the call-and-response vocal style and polyrhythms of batuque to the live show. Refinery29 calls the song, from the artist’s 14th studio album, Madame X, which opened at #1 on the Billboard 200 in June 2019, “a defiant, joyful cry for rebellion”.
The recording, which Madonna has described as “a religious experience, just a total celebration of life,” was made among the scenic cliffs off the coast of Lisbon.
While some have been wary about cultural appropriation on the part of the artist (who has made Portugal her home in recent years), the video has been hailed for its effort to address “Portugal’s haunting past” by Billboard, while The Daily Mail headlined their review: “Madonna delves into African history and sisterhood in haunting music video for Batuka”.
LBB Online called it “groundbreaking”, saying, “Arguably no music video, in more than 70 videos that Madonna has made in her incredible career, has been more like an authentic document of a real event ... Adjei’s video is a heartfelt expression of the power of music to cross boundaries, to raise spirits, and to heal.”
Promonews hailed it as “a real breakthrough into a different kind of Madonna video,” saying, “With its focus on the powerful faces of the women in the multi-generational Orquestra, and the harshly beautiful setting, this is the second successive video that Adjei has directed for Madonna, where the lady herself is not the centre of attention.”
Dutch-Ghanaian film director and visual artist Emmanuel Adjei has received multiple nominations and wins at Le Club des Directeurs Artistiques, UK Music Video Awards, D&AD Awards, Young Director's Awards, Kinsale Shark Awards, Epica Awards, Shots Awards, Creative Circle Awards, Ciclope Awards, and Camerimage. He also directed the videos for Madonna’s Dark Ballet and Shahmaran by Sevdaliza.
:: Made industry trade site Promo News’ list of the Best Music Videos of 2019: Performance
:: Almost 3.5m views on Youtube