kanye west

Music Video Director Dave Meyers (Missy Elliot, Outkast, Jay Z etc)

Music Video Director Dave Meyers (Missy Elliot, Outkast, Jay Z etc)

Dave Meyers’ frenetic imagination has conjured some of this era’s most recognizable music videos. Active since the 90s, his resume consists of over 200 projects with a genre-spanning list of artists from Jay-Z to Mick Jagger. 

A chance meeting with Good Will Hunting filmmaker Gus Van Sant inspired Meyers to pursue videos and he landed his first MTV slot in 1997 with underground Oakland duo The Whoridas. The Californian director’s most iconic work includes eleven of Missy Elliot’s career defining videos as well as visuals for Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad” and “So Fresh, So Clean.” He won a best video Grammy Award in 2005 for Elliot’s “Lose Control” and has also received eleven MTV Awards. 

Meyers recently took a three-year sabbatical to pursue film and advertising, but is now diving back into capturing music. During more than an hour of conversation, we discussed a fraction of his filmography and thoughts on industry issues such as lower budgets and product placement. He discussed early interactions with Kanye West, shooting with Nas, making 44 videos in one year and a whole lot more.  

Do you think music videos have worth in 2015 or are they in danger of becoming content for content’s sake?

They certainly have regained value for me. I took a three or four year break there and focused on commercials. What I’ve learned with the reach of a music video, especially to it’s fans, is there’s nothing quite like it other than maybe Jurassic Park [laughs]. It’s a very strong connection that artists still maintain with their fans, even more so than ever, because of the way the Internet is. To be part of that and to be a creative entity associated with that is kind of the purpose of filmmaking, or my particular passion. I’ve reached out to all of the folks you’d expect me to reach out to and we’re brewing some cool stuff that is coming our way. You’ll hopefully see some collaboration later this year with Missy [Elliot], Janet [Jackson] and there are a variety of things that might be coming. My passion for videos is alive and well and as I think the artists have sort of gotten used to the lower budgets, the resulting climate is a push for creativity.

Hit Boy Interview

Hit Boy Interview

Hit Boy went from his mom’s house to working with Lil Wayne, Eminem, Kanye West and Jay-Z in the space of two years. He released the quadruple platinum “Drop the World” and “Niggas In Paris” almost back to back and was on the stage with Watch The Throne when they performed the track 11 times. But, for him, it’s not enough. The 27 year old, real name Chauncey Hollis, spends every day thinking about the producer he’s working to become.

In 2013, Hit Boy left Kanye’s GOOD Music label and broke out on his own. Details on the split are murky and naysayers claim he shouldn’t have left Yeezy’s side, but Hollis doesn’t care. More focused than ever, he’s launched the Hits Since ‘87 imprint and modelled his career after Timbaland’s history of working with hand-picked talent. Hit Boy has since formed a collective including long term friends Audio Push, started a solo rap career and released music with his formerly incarcerated father Big Hit.
While preparing to release new tracks “Automatically” and “Show Me Something,” he talked about producing for Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, and life after GOOD Music.

Was last year your quietest production-wise in some time?

As far as producing for a bunch of people, yes, because I took time to focus on my label. I put out We the Plug and I produced a bunch of songs on there, that if you go listen to those beats, there aren’t really a lot of urban beats that match that. But it’s just that we’re a growing label and we’re a growing situation so not as many people are paying attention to us right now, but we’re on the radar and we’ve been dropping just as much music as everybody else. It’s just that people aren’t paying as much attention because it’s a new situation, you know.

Other than the obvious choices like your squad or Jay/Kanye, is there someone particularly hands-on you’ve worked with?

Honestly, I mean there’s Bey[once] you know. She’s part of the whole Jay-Z/Kanye level, but she definitely knows what she wants when you’re working with her. I might do a drum pattern and she’ll tell me it needs to sound more “futuristic” or it needs to have different textures, so I like working with her a lot too. She knows exactly what she wants.

CyHi The Prynce - "Forever" and "To Be Real" freestyles

Depending on who you ask, CyHi The Prynce is either the most underrated or under-performing of Kanye’s friends. Much like King Chip, the “reservoir for metaphors” is a somewhat capable MC who has an equal amount of fans and detractors. CyHi remains album-less after four years of GOOD Music purgatory and even a co-sign from the Illustrious Beyhive has it’s limits. To keep busy while pondering why Teyana Taylor came off the bench first, the 30 year old released two freestyles last week.

As a sucker for prominent retro samples, “Forever” and “To Be Real”
sound golden to yours sincerely. “Forever” is a pledge of allegiance to the grind over a repurposed hook from matching outfit era Jodeci and chopped Keith Sweat sample. CyHi’s dense collection of bars is secondary to the throwback tunes, but the frustrated vibe from ‘Ye’s rumoured ghostwriter is hard to miss.

"To Be Real" hit 45k plays in 24 hours and the rework of Cheryl Lynn’s 70s disco hit is another production win even she commended. CyHi often trades in back to back simple metaphors e.g “treat rappers like trampolines. I just bounce on ‘em.” This is the specific technique that divides listeners into opposing camps, you either think the quick-wit works well with the bubbly beat or it makes you cringe. No matter what side you fall on, the beats are enough to overlook CyHi’s wordplay. As a fan of both, I happen to agree with the eloquent commenter who stated “anyone who doesn’t like these can head-butt a knife.” If the man who insists on misspelling prince and using elementary rhymes keeps his production team close, Kanye might just let him put some numbers on the board.

Kanye West and Jay-Z - Watch The Throne review

3.5 stars

The most overrated and hated collaborate on an album that’s both brilliant and flawed.

Fans were practically wetting themselves in anticipation for Watch The Throne and on great tracks like ‘Otis’ and ‘Lift Off’ you can see why. Jay-Z is lyrically reinvigorated after competing against this generation’s smarmy 19-year-old rappers.

Kanye’s creativity is also in fine form with unique production and well-chosen guest musicians including RZA, Frank Ocean and The Dream. The duo covers multiple genres from Dubstep to Soul, and even prove they can out-do swag rappers on ‘Niggas In Paris’. Unfortunately the album sounds more like a collection of singles than a solid project. With so many ideas involved, tracks like ‘H.A.M’ and ‘Illest Motherf*cker Alive’ are almost overbearing in their lack of simplicity. Luckily the great moments outshine the lousy ones and witnessing the worldwide frenzy surrounding the album is almost as fun as listening to it.

By Jimmy Ness