Yesterday, a video clip was released for the track Wyclef Jean from Young Thug‘s 2016 album JEFFERY. The incredible meta-video is not the video it was intended to be; rather, it’s a commentary by “co-director” Ryan Staake (the inverted commas are there because he was supposed to “co-direct” it with Thugger) about how the video got made without Young Thug showing up at all. The rapper allegedly showed up ten hours late, refused to get out of his car, and then drove off after an hour. The only involvement from Jeffery himself was a recording of him brainstorming a few basic concepts for the video – kids and kid-sized cars, police vehicles, “bad bitches and a lotta hoes” etc. There was also brief pre-recorded footage of him eating Cheetos.
To use up both time and the video’s $100,000 budget, Staake and the team at production company Pomp & Clout went ahead without him, filming various scenes featuring said cars, bitches, hoes, etc.
The resulting video is a look at exactly what happened next – from the perspective of a pissed off but creative director. Commentating text uses deadpan humour throughout, not only discussing the actual filming in between actual scenes, but mentioning every post-production edit, including label and lawyer requests to make changes. The video goes even further in breaking down that fourth wall, by mentioning that it will be discussed in comments online.
All in all the video is a smart and funny success, no doubt achieving more attention and praise than if it had been the originally planned video.
But more than that, the video is a painstakingly real take on how shit it can be to deal with artists like Young Thug. Staake has confirmed that the video’s premise was completely real, and not a stunt (as in, it wasn’t planned to be this amazing meta-commentary-thing, it really was improvised). In an interview with Booooooom, he explains:
“The only part of this that was planned was using the audio of him describing what he wanted and building it out piece by piece. Beyond that, its 100% a reaction to the shitty cards I was dealt on this production. The video tells the story of what actually happened, but I agree, that would’ve been quite a concept if I’d planned it all.
Once I got into the concept during post, I actually welcomed all the bizarre turns it kept taking… He sent a drive? Awesome, I’ll use it and make fun of it. The label wants me to remove a line? Okay, we’ll mention that. They want logos? Perfect, another opportunity for a few jokes.”
Seeing the humour in it all, Thug’s teams approved the final result, and thus it was released. “I think at the end of the day, everyone understood that the goal of a video is to get views, and that this approach would get more than some half baked reshoot video.”
It all ended well, and Staake did note that “him not arriving made for a much more interesting video than we would’ve had if he had arrived.” But it really irks me that people are saying it’s Young Thug’s video and praising Thugger for being so hilarious and creative about it all, because he’s not. Staake doesn’t even know if Thug likes or has seen the video, let alone conceptualised and directed it.
Young Thug is notorious for being late, for cancelling shows, and for generally being an asshole. Love him or hate him music-wise, you can’t deny that he’s a dickhead to his fans. He was a last-minute booking to Laneway Festival taking place here in Australia next week, but I’d be more surprised if he actually shows up on time – or at all – than if he cancels.
Edit: HA. About five hours after writing this article, Young Thug indeed did cancel his visit to Laneway Festival.
In the predicted online comments, numerous people who work on music videos have confirmed that artists like Thug do show up late to shoots, and how frustrating and wasteful this can be.
This video is amazingly funny, and it does an incredible job of making the best out of a shit situation. But it’s not Young Thug’s video. It’s Ryan Staake’s video for a Young Thug song. Sure, maybe I’m taking this a little too seriously, but also, maybe I’m not. Credit where credit’s due, guys. Don’t thank Young Thug for wasting 100k and a tonne of people’s time. Thank Staake for being the creative and hilarious improvisor that he is.