My piece in the JCMS In Focus, “Modes of Black Liquidity: Music Video as Black Art” is defined by the term “wild style,” a seminal trope of the nascent years of hip hop’s visual aesthetic, which described the bold, spray-painted style of lettering that morphed into coded phrases, pictures and tableaus—scenes springing from the minds of young black and brown youth in NYC. My reanimation of wild style takes flight by examining a series of hip hop music videos noting how particular gestures and styles of performance in these texts reanimate earlier modes of performance and social critique (what Daphne Brooks might call dissent) and how they flow across nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century popular culture. The videos I engage are not simply political, ironic or controversial; I argue that they deploy embodied, discursive, and aesthetic provocations to destabilize categorization and meaning. Provocation is a thing, a graphic depiction of violence or a gesture, for instance, and a mode of performative encounter. I trace how elements in these videos modulate the space between paradigms of legibility and illegibility. Legibility refers to ways in which music video form fosters accessibility, transparency, or familiarity, and how it circulates to multiple audiences triggering exposure and commercial viability for the artist. Illegibility, then, is embodied as the impasse or disconnect between the artist and some viewers, or, as conflicting or paradoxical interpretations of the video and its relationship to the broader archive of race and performance. To be certain, it is not always clear what is legible/illegible, but it is the tension between these spheres that is intriguing; how these texts deploy both elements in a single video; how we are often disturbed, confounded and awed simultaneously; how provocation and critique are at times wielded bluntly, while at others nuanced and precise. Beginning in the twentieth century, I discuss the groundbreaking video for the South Bronx’s Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s (GMFFF) iconic song “The Message” (1982) then pivot to the twenty-first century imagination of Donald Glover, and his musical alter-ego Childish Gambino, whose video “This is America” (2018) engages the archive of racialized movement and dance from the nineteenth century and became a viral phenomenon. Lastly, I consider how SoundCloud music streaming enabled the rise of new iterations of hip hop music and video form, briefly discussing a video from the late provocateur XXXTentacion entitled “Look at Me” (2017).