Over the last year and a half, TikTok has become a powerhouse platform and has taken certain underground artists and exploded their career. Sony artists, BIGKLIT and Lonr are two artists whose stock has skyrocketed since their respective tracks blew up on TikTok. In 2019 BigKlit dropped her single, ‘Liar,’ but after the track caught fire in 2020 on TikTok, she has landed herself on everyone’s radar. Simultaneously, Lonr’s track A.M. has done the same for him.
Meanwhile, 20 year old—now 21—college student Kelly Butts-Spirito had just moved to the city after having his college baseball season come to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The videographer had been shooting videos since he was in high school but it was a DM conversation with Lonr. that Kelly said opened his eyes to new possibilities. Sharing about the his experience Kelly says, “I’d talked to Lonr right before the pandemic hit and he liked what I was doing at the time just editing for one of Chief Keef’s videographers, while I was playing baseball in college. He told me if I was in New York City he wanted to work. So I knew I needed to be in the city. I was on a call with his manager within the next few days and the rest is history really…A month later we filmed ‘The End’ and I was shooting for his Lollapalooza set. I’d only been out of high school for one year at the time so to be running a whole video set for Lolla set was a bit surreal.”
Kelly’s video with 2x Grammy nominated Lonr. massed over one hundred thousand views quickly picking up press releases about the video from multiple major sources. It was an impactful visual about addiction. Lonr. is in a backyard trapped by his demons with a dead-end sign behind him. At the end of the video his demons trap him in a basement and take him over. It is an intense and thought-provoking visual experience. After working with Lonr. Kelly was put on the radar of BIGKLIT. The two have now gone on to make three music videos together released under rotsworldwide management. Each one is striking with scandalous imagery. In one of the videos titled “YOU CANT HANDLE THE KLIT” Kelly has BIGKLIT fully covered in tape in a thong dancing in a bed while screaming “you can’t handle the Klit…”, a clear representation of the constraints that society has put on her and the power she has within that society, in turn, cannot handle.
Kelly Butts-Spirito talks BIGKLIT – “I love working with Klit. When we work together it’s so easy. It’s like second nature and the work just comes out different every time than anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s almost as easy as something like drinking water… you just do it without thinking. Klit is incredible, she is a true artist that pushes boundaries and is a feminist in the most real way. My work with her is also very largely influenced by her creative manager who is one of my favorite people ever. The three of us literally shot 5 full music videos in three days when we first met in the city.”
Clearly, the young videographer has done some serious soul searching in his 21 years of life and is now tackling timeless difficulties of the human experience with his underground music videos that I have a feeling will not be underground for long. Is Kelly Butts-Spirito the future Tarantino of this generation? Only time will tell but the unsettling visuals are on beat. The issues he is touching on such as self-love, breaking societal expectations and the demon of addiction are important and timeless. It will be exciting to see where this young director takes his career next but one thing is clear, Kelly Butts-Spirito is arriving and the world has a lot to learn from him.