First: Meet the Director
There's a reason why the opening clips look like they were shot behind the scenes at a casting for Calvin Klein. The film's director, London-based Tyrone Lebon, shot the label's fall 2016 campaign, which featured Frank Ocean cradling a Marilyn Monroe look-alike in his arms.
1. The Patron Saint of Wild Youth
The first person who came to our minds when we watched the video was cult indie director Harmony Korine. From the video's occasionally grainy VHS feel to its depiction of kids behaving badly the way real kids do—Korine's work (Kids, Spring Breakers, and Gummo, in particular) can be felt all over the place.
2. Renaissance-Style Tableaus Made for 2016
The paintings of Kehinde Wiley have been an influence on Kanye West's visual work in the past (and vice versa), and it looks like Wiley's penchant for painting modern black men in the style of masterpieces by artists like Peter Paul Rubens and Jacques-Louis David was a reference for some of the gorgeous compositions in "Nikes," too.
3. Return of Lady Godiva
When we saw that naked woman on the dreamy white horse, we thought of the amazingly talented (and amazingly young) photographer Olivia Bee right away. Her personal work is full of beautiful nudity, fairy-tale imagery, and both human and equine models. Speaking of fantastic legends, we were reminded of someone a little older than Olivia, too: Lady Godiva, who rode a horse nude through the English town of Coventry to gain a pardon for her indebted husband.
4. DayGlo Debauchery
These days, it would be hard to create a scene on film that involves strippers, drugs, and neon colors without French director Gaspar Noé's 2009 film Enter the Void playing a part. That's good news, if you ask us.
5. Things in Tanks
Two of the art world's most successful—and most polarizing—contemporary artists have created work that involves tanks. Damien Hirst put sharks (and other animals) in his, Jeff Koons chose basketballs, and, in "Nikes," Ocean opted for a beautiful lady (or "mermaid," if we're staying true to the lyrics).
6. Rain, Glitter
Marilyn Minter has been making surreal, overwhelmingly lush photographs of lips, eyes, tongues, and other body parts coated with glitter, metallic gel, and pearls, since the '90s. Her imagery exudes so much hard-edged glitz and excess, it's hard to believe she's not referenced more often in hip-hop.
7. Truth on a T-Shirt
There is a ton of super-sold-out streetwear in the video, from brands like Supreme and skateboarder Alex Olson's label, Bianca Chandôn. But the black T-shirt that Ocean is wearing on stage toward the end? That one features Jenny Holzer's famous "truisms," beginning with the words "Abuse of power should come as no surprise."
8. Downtown New York's Visual Biographer
Beautiful young people making out or smiling in front of bright colors? It's impossible not to immediately think of the work of downtown New York art photographer Ryan McGinley, whose gorgeous images capture the fleeting joys of youthful freedom. According to McGinley's Instagram, the two are buddies as well.
9. The Most *Fire* Music Video Director of All Time
Frank Ocean isn't the only person to feature a slow-motion shot of a man set on fire. Spike Jonze built the entire iconic music video for Wax's "Southern California" around a single slowed-down shot of a man running down a city street while engulfed in flames.