The male and female artistic partnership is as old as time. There was Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Marina Abramović and Ulay, just to name a few. Now, rap artist Tommy Cash and creative director Anna-Lisa Himma, the powerhouse team out of Tallinn, Estonia, are looking to make their mark on pop culture history.
The duo is the brain center behind Cash’s mind-blowing rap videos, a fitting partnership given their close proximity throughout their childhood. “We were born in the hospital five days apart and grew up in the same area,” says Himma. “We actually spent one night in the nursery together.”
However, it wasn’t until 2014 when Cash was shooting the video for his record Euroz Dollaz Yeniz that he met Himma, a producer working on set. “I had crazy beef with the director because I was adding so many ideas and he didn’t want to trust me,” says Cash. “After this crazy fight with the team, I decided it was time for me to do my own videos. At first, we had maybe 300 euros to spend, and Anna was helping me. It just grew slowly.”
The pair’s first video together was “Leave Me Alone” in 2015, which depicts Cash in a dilapidated, presumably Eastern European countryside setting, where he’s bathing, working out and, later, headbanging in the backseat of a car as an elderly woman looks on peeling potatoes. Now the pair has a bigger budget with which to explore their surrealist ideas and more opportunities to create the dystopian reality on which to layer Cash’s beats. His 2018 video “Pussy Money Weed,” which clocks over 7 million views on YouTube, features Cash and his crew in wheelchairs, as dancers (some lacking limbs) circle around him. The equally subversive, slightly creepy “Little Molly” features Cash’s face on every person in every scene, from little girls playing the piano to a bride and groom posing for a photo. How he and Himma’s minds meet on these works is truly a study in the art of collaboration.
“The reason we work well together is that we’re very different in how we approach the process,” says Himma. “He’ll come to me and say, ‘I see a scene where someone’s face is in a woman’s crotch.’ He has these crazy ideas and I’m the one who can create the world and tie it all together. Sometimes I’m his filter. I’ll say, ‘That’s good, that’s not so good.’ We butt
heads a lot, too.”
While the pair draws inspiration in various ways (Cash might feel influenced by a juicy hamburger, or the way an overweight police officer stands on the street), the one commonality they share is a love for old-school music videos and the MTV they grew up watching. Cash cites Michael Jackson as truly owning the music video genre. “No one can top Michael,” he says. “His creativity was so crazy. Watching his videos feels like you’re watching a play.”
As Cash works on his latest album, there will, no doubt, be more artistic endeavors for him and Himma. As to his thoughts on his career trajectory, the sky’s the limit. “I’m working harder than ever to reach my goals and be closer to Michael Jackson,” he says. “I want to make videos that are good as his, or maybe even better. Who knows?”