In the few days since the music video for Young Thug’s Wyclef Jean emerged, it’s racked up over 4.3 million views. The film tells the story of the director Ryan Staake as he tries to make a $100,000 music video with Young Thug. As the rapper fails to show up and the shoot spirals into chaos, Ryan narrates the tale using title cards and brutal honesty.
We spoke to Ryan, the founder of New York production company Pomp&Clout, about the story behind the music video that never was.
After the disastrous shoot, how did you come to the decision to tell the “true” story behind it?
“The label were interested in doing a re-shoot with Young Thug, but we couldn’t align on an appropriate re-shoot budget. I’d shot some footage on set where we joked that we could ‘just add him in post’ and I came across that while doing an early assembly edit to see what viable footage I had. I also began to realise that a lot of the footage we had really interesting behind the scenes stories, and had this epiphany that I could just make the video about that. I was also pissed at the whole situation, and decided to take it out on a treatment. The initial titles in the treatment were a bit more… pointed. I sent it to the label and they responded ‘we love it’, but then we got into debate over how much creative control I should have. I was firm in stating that I needed full creative control over the text if it was going to work, as I knew the label would make a mockery out of my concept if I let them too close to the text. In the end, we decided that I should do a first pass at it, and they’d decide if they liked it or not.”
How did you convince Young Thug to sign off on a video that portrays him in a negative light?
“I don’t think it’s that negative…”
The video now has over four million views in a couple of days. Did you expect that?
“I had no idea the reception would be this positive. I thought the music video world would enjoy it, but the general public’s celebration of it completely blindsided me. It came out around 10pm on Jan 16th and I was watching the chatter picking up until 3am or so, realising it was building like a wave. I finally turned off my phone so I could sleep, and woke up at 9AM to a million views and tons of press and interview inquiries. I quickly showered dressed, and went through a day that included a half dozen fuzzy phone interviews, a TMZ Skype interview, and a fast paced interview with Zane Lowe for Beats1/Apple Music.”
Have you had any contact with Young Thug since the shoot?
“Nope, I got a call from an Atlanta area code today, but it was just T.I.’s assistant.”