Interview Magazine: Hype Williams Interview
In an ongoing series of content revolving around Lil Wayne and hip-hop, Interview Magazine profile the highly respected music video director, Hype Williams. The short interview discusses his craft and how interpretation of what music videos should represent. Along the way, he also talks about his first meeting with Lil Wayne as a 15-year-old on Diddy’s jet, the creation of the “6 Foot, 7 Foot” video from Wayne as well as working with Kanye West on last year’s Runaway short film. A selection of answers are seen below with the full interview seen here.
SYMONDS: How do you first approach a song that you’re going to make a video for? How do you keep them all looking different when you do 10 or 20 in a year?
WILLIAMS: Well, I’m a music guy, actually. So, I’m probably one of the last of the Mohicans that really focuses up on what something sounds like first, and then what it looks like second. Breaking it down, the simplicity of it—it’s technically a “music video,” so it’s music first and visuals are supposed to come after, and actually, more function as a complement. This is how I think, so I basically really focus up on what the song is, what it means to people, and try to create something visually that functions or serves as like a—helper. You know what I mean? At the end of the day, what we do is technically supposed to be a marketing tool as well as something creative, so I just look at it like that—how can I best serve the record?
SYMONDS: Do you remember when you met Lil Wayne?
WILLIAMS: Man, I met Lil Wayne, shit, I wanna say 15, 16 years ago.
WILLIAMS: They had a group called The Hot Boys, and he was just a kid back then, but Slim and Baby [Williams] were pushing another artist named Juvenile, at the time, and The Hot Boys was like the young kind of follow-up group to what Juvenile was. And they all used to hang out with Puff, pretty heavy. And they were all on the Diddy Jet one time, and that’s how I met him. He just was like a kid.
SYMONDS: So you’ve sort of watched him grow up? He was, what, 15 when he joined The Hot Boys?
WILLIAMS: No, let me be clear, that was a chance meeting.
SYMONDS: Oh, okay.
WILLIAMS: The Cash Money movement from Louisiana, I kind of missed that, so I just kind of [by] chance met him with Puff on the Diddy Jet one time. And then I always remember, for years, watching him as an artist, I kind of watched him from across the room—the music-business room.
SYMONDS: To talk about the “6 Foot, 7 Foot” video, can you walk me through the process of how you guys came up with the concept and everything?
WILLIAMS: Well, he called me, we had a meeting—he came down to Miami and wanted to do something different. The first time we ever got to work together, he played me the record. I just thought we should take the opportunity and do something that was more of an art piece than what he had done before in a music video, which is just more photography-based, more concept-based, and lyric-based, and not necessarily just catching him on camera. I mean, at this point, he’s like a giant already, so he really didn’t need me to shoot the video. I thought I might properly serve him and the record by doing something that was more specific to the sound of the record. I really thought I could serve him, and where he is as an artist, better that way.
SYMONDS: It’s a really cool video. How did you decide to do the Inception homage?
WILLIAMS: The Inception of it all was his idea, basically. That was really what he had wanted from the beginning, so I can’t take credit for that. When he called me, he really thought that that’s what the record sounded like for him. So I would take something that was important to him, and communicate it in a way that I best could.
SYMONDS: So your other big project in the last year or so was that you wrote the script for Kanye West’s short film, Runaway—I know that Kanye wrote the story, and then you wrote the script, and then he directed it. How did that all work?
WILLIAMS: Oh man, it wasn’t really that complicated! I had a little house upstate in New York, he came up for a visit. I had a little guest house, and we sat in the guest house for a couple days, and we just talked about ideas, and I wrote it. So it wasn’t really that plotted out or planned out—he already had wanted to do something big like that, but we just basically just sat in a room together for the earlier part of the summer last year and just nailed it.