Old English, New Style: RUFFMERCY

VIDEO: Old English – Young Thug, Freddie Gibbs & A$AP Ferg (dir. RUFFMERCY)


With this week’s release of the music video for Old English by Young Thug (above), we focus on the video’s director – RUFFMERCY. The Bristol based illustrator, animator, music video director and producer brings us a style that’s unmistakable for some of the most forward-thinking artists around.

This current video is synonymous of the RUFFMERCY approach with fragmented, chalkboard like frames, psychedelic colour palette and tripped out caricatures of the artists featured in the song – the song talks about “taking M” so if the shoe fits…

But that’s not exclusive to the Old English video. The director consistently includes these elements in much of his work and the more you see his videos, the more you see the illustrator in him coming out to play. He has a clear influence from Jean-Michel Basquiat, from the form of his drawings to the way he uses writing over the frame; it’s almost like you’re seeing his mental annotations on screen, graphically emphasising the way he visualises songs. It suits the artists he’s worked with too; wordsmiths such as Danny Brown, Wiley and Lily Allen have all come to RUFFMERCY to create a visual accompaniment to their tracks, highlighting moods and key lyrics and it’s evident to see why it works so well.

He’s worked with other global names such as Disclosure providing the animation for the hit F for You video (this video was actually directed by Kate Moross) – the duo’s instantly recognisable scratched-negative imagery being an obvious and coherent relation to RUFFMERCY’s illustrative style. It’s fair to say that he has a go-to style for a lot of his videos and could be deemed overly similar. That could be partly down to labels wanting a sure thing or it could be down to the fact that he has regular collaborators like Ewen Farr or Patch Keyes who are illustrators and animators in their own right.


There’s more to RUFFMERCY though and it is videos like the ones for the two Pauls – Paul Weller’s Green and Paul White’s Where You Gonna Go – which are my personal favourites. Both use much of the elements talked about already but use them more subtly. What draws me to these videos more than the others is the is the kaleidoscopic nature of them, the geometric details and to an extent, the increased sense of psychedelia. The fully animated Dudley Perkins video for Lung Specialist (created in collaboration with Keyes and Farr) takes the trip in alternative direction with a more fluid approach and provides something more akin to a weird and wonderful short film but in my eyes, equally successful.

The industry seems to not be able to get enough of RUFFMERCY and neither can we. The prospect of him working with more artists across more genres of music (GOAT anyone?) or even working outside the music video buffer is exciting and I’m looking forward to see what’s else is to come from this talented Bristolian.

Check out RUFFMERCY’s videos for Paul Weller, Paul White and Dudley Perkins below and be sure to check out the much more of his work here and hereYou can also buy the single for Old English on iTunes.