Wednesday night in a Greenpoint apartment, the air was thick with weed smoke. All of the furniture in the living room was shoved into one corner, while in the kitchen, a group of partially undressed young people milled around with drinks in their hands. Rap songs played out of a small guitar amp on the floor. It looked like a house party, aside from the lighting rigs and the large camera dolly in the middle of the room.
In actuality, it was the video shoot for Detroit rapper Danny Brown’s A-Trak-produced “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” off last year’s album, Old. “The way I’ve been explaining it to people,” says director Alan Del Rio Ortiz, “is like a house party, but in a dream. So there’s a lot of strange lighting and strange camera movements going on. We have Froot Loops everywhere. The hardest thing was really the logistics of getting a really crazy party going with people who’ve never met each other.”
“It’s like a normal fun time with me,” Brown explains during a cigarette break on the building’s stoop. “In the Midwest, I guess you can go party and do a nightclub type of thing. But a lot of people, on the weekends, you probably got that one house that you hang out at and you go on a Saturday night and you all smoke, you all drink, you all play cards. You do that until you can’t do it anymore, and then you go home to sleep.”
Back inside, a girl with wet hair walks through the living room wearing just a towel. In the kitchen, one of the extras instructs another in the proper use of a beer bong. Comedian Hannibal Buress, who stopped by to hang with Brown, watches from behind the camera as the crew sets up a final shot, where Brown rides the camera dolly in and out of the action in the kitchen. Snack food and whipped cream fly everywhere. Brown ends up with Froot Loops stuck in his hair. After a quick take of a model blowing silver glitter at the camera, the party’s a wrap.