Local Current Blog

Behind the Scenes: MaLLy’s balloon-filled ‘WWDI’

Minneapolis rapper MaLLy’s latest video for his pensive track “WWDI,” directed by Victor Rukavina and Stevie Kane of 1Light Films, features a vibrant color scheme and themes of universalism. “WWDI,” short for “Why We Do It,” starts with a child walking hand in hand with an older man and releasing a bright red balloon from Gold Medal Park. It drifts over the city until finding its way to the hands of MaLLy. The rapper sits on a bench, in front of the Minneapolis skyline and, throughout the course of the video, flashes between different uniforms, ranging from firefighter’s gear to scrubs to a prison jumpsuit.

“Why we do it” offers an answer for the motivations for people living all these different lives. In releasing the video on social media, MaLLy wrote, “I wanted this video to represent reflection, connectedness and a glimpse of hope for the year 2020 that’s been filled with a lot of uncertainty, pain and grief.” He also explained his own answer to the song’s central query in adding, “Upon returning, I learned that creative expression and music is my positive contribution to the world and exactly why I do it.”

The song comes from MaLLy’s latest album, The Journey to a Smile, which was released last September. For the artist, this project was representative of a wholistic life journey. Released five years after his previous album, MaLLy embraced sobriety, meditation, and a new mindset throughout the creation of this project. During a performance on the Local Show last fall, MaLLy said the process of creating Smile meant “really setting intentions with happiness, not just for yourself but also for others around you.”

The process of creating and releasing “WWDI” took place over an extended period of time. MaLLy first teased the filming of the video and its flock of red balloons on Facebook back in November of last year. The past eleven months have, of course, marked major changes throughout the world as a whole. The themes of the record still ring true in the this radically different version of the world. Much like the red balloon being passed between hands as a connecting point between characters in the music video, the ideas behinds MaLLy’s music have found new resonance during this time.

With the seamless integration of the lyrical and visual themes of the album, it’s clear that collaboration was a key element to the success of the project, much in the way that MaLLy has approached his music itself.  About the release of his most recent album, MaLLy told Andrea Swensson, “Everyone that contributed, whether it was artwork or the photos or the music, it’s one big team effort. Whatever you see or whatever you hear is not just me. I want people to understand that too — it’s a team effort. Everyone believed in the mission and the vision of the project.”

Behind the Scenes is a biweekly feature spotlighting Minnesota music videos. To submit your video for consideration, e-mail fridayfive [at] mpr.org.