Margeaux Watson
April 14, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Harold ”Hype” Williams talks about his music videos

As one of the biggest music video directors of the ’90s, Harold ”Hype” Williams won fame for shooting with a fish-eye lens (think Busta Rhymes’ ”Gimme Some More”). His signature trick became a cliché toward the decade’s end, however, and such clients as Missy Elliott and Usher turned to newcomers like Little X and Dave Meyers for creative companionship. Last year, the auteur’s stock rebounded when he directed Kanye West’s clip for ”Gold Digger,” yet a survey of his recent work finds him recycling a new conceit: a three-segment screen, with superfluous footage appearing above and below a central letterbox frame. Herewith, Williams defends his new gimmick — and EW reviews it!

”CHECK ON IT”
Beyoncé featuring Bun B and Slim Thugg (Columbia)
Williams: ”The concept was to make everything pink to brand the relationship with The Pink Panther. The pink sails reflect the wind instrument sound of the string section.”

EW: Pink is the theme. We get it. But we’d rather see more Beyoncé in the extra frames than watch satin sails blowing in the breeze. B+

”UNPREDICTABLE”
Jamie Foxx featuring Ludacris (J)
Williams: ”This song reminds me of an overcrowded party, but we didn’t have an overcrowded party to shoot, so I used the top and bottom of the frame to give it that overblown feeling.”

EW: There’s way too much going on in this video. But even if Williams had abandoned the dizzying collage of R&B clichés and condensed the action into one central frame, it’d still be lame. D+

”MY HOOD”
Young Jeezy (Def Jam)
Williams: ”This record has a big parade sound, so we wanted to overwhelm people with how we felt about the hood. We added the gold frame to put a stamp on what we’re trying to convey.”

EW: No gaudy frame can save this video?with its tired scenes of run-down storefronts, graffiti, and folks on porches — from looking like every other ode to a rapper’s hometown (here, Atlanta). C+

”CONTROL MYSELF”
LL Cool J featuring Jennifer Lopez (Def Jam)
Williams: ”J. Lo’s vocals are doubled on this record, so that’s where I got the idea for the kaleidoscopic images of Jen in the letterbox.”

EW By turning the camera sideways and using the full length of the frame to get a head-to-toe shot of J. Lo, Williams delivers the finest execution of his new technique. A-

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