Nina Cristante is an artist, autodidactic nutritionist, Aquarius and my best friend. Had it not been for a mutual friend linking us during her temporary stay in NYC seven months back, I may’ve never been introduced to the full spectrum of her work. Just a subtle trail of digital breadcrumbs. Slow-mo-promo. A whisper, a wink, a bikini body meme. A deliberately ambiguous website hosting austere at-home workout videos and fragments of clients’ food diaries.
The video for the song “Ni Soo” by Tanzanian heartthrob, Pasha, is brimming with saturated, earth tone sensuality.
But before we delve into the visual aspects of the video, let’s reflect on Swahili, the language of this song and the lingua franca of East Africa. Swahili has always held a mythical, slightly dreamy status in my mind, its name adapted from the Arabic word sawahil, meaning “coastal.” It’s widely spoken in the aforementioned and seemingly restive quarter of Africa, the one you rarely read about because they’re just chilling.
Or so I’d like to imagine. The song, which contains a strong R&B-style vocal, is undeniably catchy; I found myself humming its more-ish chorus all day. The setting of the video, which include the heavy presence of faux rosewood and russet brown furniture against cream-colored walls, delivers a particular kind of global interior aesthetic that is genuinely horrifying. One assumes this ubiquitous selection has been made with the intention to evoke warmth, but instead what I’m left with is the distinct chill of low-level anxiety. And yet, what absolves this uneasy interior from its Dettol-scented doom (Dettol, the world’s leading antiseptic brand) is the presence of our angelic singer, Pasha, whose unfiltered joyfulness is now etched in my brain. His fake Diesel tanktop, oversized Union Jack belt buckle, and unidentified denim are heaven-sent. The comments to this video merely reinforce my POV, that we are in the presence of an East African Eros whose mega-watt smile is powerful enough to end all suffering with one cursory beam.