The video for Talib Kweli's State of Grace is as dense and lyrical as the song itself. Created in collaboration with Kweli and production company dreambear, it's packed with color and custom typefaces, the song's lyrics appearing like graffiti art daubed on New York's imposing brownstone buildings. It's animated and otherwordly — starring a flaming microphone, a lightning-powered car, and an Akira-esque hip hop monstrosity — but it still evokes the New York that both Kweli and hip hop itself call home.
Animator Daniel Cordero cited the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat as one of his major influences in creating the video. Speaking to The Verge, Cordero said Basquiat — a pioneering artist active in New York in the 1980s — was instrumental in making hip hop, graffiti, and street art a "true art worthy of being exhibited in museums and galleries." But Cordero says his influences weren't confined to the East Coast. The animator also says his time spent living in the "African and Jamaican neighborhoods" of Brixton and Peckham in South London as major inspirations for the video.
Cordero created most of the animations with After Effects, using designs and illustrations made in Photoshop. For some parts of the video, such as like drops of rain, or eye movements, Cordero used frame-by-frame animation, a process he describes as "tedious," but one which he "quite enjoyed." Cordero chose to use this method of animation to reference Basquiat's style, and, like the artist, aimed to improvise where possible. "Improvising was something that connected very well with how Basquiat would work on his paintings." The result is a video that veers wildly between styles, juxtaposing black-and-white and jolts of color to highlight the strong narrative — a hopeful story about the unifying power of hip hop — behind Kweli's song.