With the decadent, vibrant visuals he’s created for Twista’s “Give It Up (feat. Pharrell),” director Hype Williams addresses the common criticism of rap music as one big advertisement by making a video that is boldly and self-consciously a moving billboard of products and slogans. With nods to Andy Warhol and skate companies like FUCT, he remixes retro ad logos and bathes them in a Technicolor glow. Indeed, he and the showcased artists become products on display — Twista is 7-Eleven, Pharrell becomes popsicles and a breakfast cereal, and Williams takes care of the essentials: Wonder Bread, detergent, and toothpaste. Meanwhile, a diverse group of ladies — who are apparently ready to “give it up” at the drop of a C-note — ride donuts, caress candy bars, and find their likenesses emblazoned on other sugary snacks. It’s classic cheesecake, for sure, but equal parts Nigella Lawson and Betty Grable.
What’s strange about the clip, however, is the way it hypes Williams and Pharell as the hot-ticket items, while relegating Twista to the clearance bin. Indeed, it’s Williams’ moniker that’s splashed across the majority of the visual smorgasbord of products. Sure, he’s always been a video innovator — from the fish-eyed lens used on MissyElliott and Busta Rhymes to the tripartite screen of more recent videos. But with “Give It Up,” Williams comes off like the Timbaland of his trade — a man who wants the same kind of billing as the stars who pay big bucks to work with him. With so much attention given to the Hype Williams name, you half-expect him to step in front of the camera and push Twista and Pharrell to the background.
Pharrell, meanwhile, scores free advertising for his fashion lines: the superproducer manages to model a full line of Billionaire Boys Club clothing in a few short minutes, while the recurring images of money-wrapped ice cream cones invoke his RBK “Ice Cream” shoes.
That leaves Twista to meander forgettably through a boring single, obscured behind the neon glow of a producer who demands a guest verse and a director who seizes the spotlight. I wonder if that’s the concept the silver-tongued Chicago native had in mind.