Director's Cut: Who Makes Your Music Videos
Colin TilleyColin Tilley has become one of the pre-eminent directors in the music industry. At only 24 years of age, he has already won a few prestigious directing awards. Thus far in his career he has won the BET Award for “Video of the Year” for Chris Brown’s “Look at me Now” and won an MTV VMA for directing Justin Bieber in “You Smile”. He has also been nominated for an additional three MTV VMA’s. Known for his eclectic and vivid narrative style, a wide variety of artists have chosen to work with this esteemed director. Artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Rick Ross and Diddy have utilized this directors unique style to convey their stories to the audience. Recently, he has directed Nicki Minaj and Cassie in “The Boys”, Lil Wayne in “No Worries” and “John” and Tyga in six videos including “Faded” and “I’m Gone” featuring Big Sean. In addition to his award winning video for “Look at me Now”, he has worked with Chris Brown on numerous other projects such as “Next 2 You” featuring Justin Bieber + “Deuces”. One of his more recent projects has been “Dope” featuring Tyga + Rick Ross.
Alex NazariAlthough relatively new to the scene, Alex Nazari has quickly made a name for himself in the music industry. Directing Meek Mill in “Dreams + Nightmares”, Tyga, Wale, Fabolous, Young Jeezy + T.I. in “Rack City” and 2 Chainz in “Spend It”, it’s hard not to see one of Nazari’s videos on regular rotation. Combining the street essence of Rik Cordero and a bit of the mainstream vibe of Hype Williams, Nazari has created a unique genre of film all to himself. After getting his start with the help of Hot New Hip Hop’s own DJ Ill Will, this fine tuned and technical director has never looked back. Always making sure to collaborate with the artist on all concepts of the video, Nazari’s work always has a special vibe and street essence true to the artist. With a constant stream of new material, him and Colin Tilley are quickly becoming hip hop's go-to film gurus.
Rik CorderoRik Cordero is at the forefront of the hip-hop music video revolution. Although he started out as a graphic designer, Cordero eventually found his passion in music and video. Utilizing a guerilla style version of filmmaking, which some would consider minimalist, Cordero has gone about changing the way hip-hop music videos can been made and viewed. Often working with just the artist and environment as opposed to props and special effects, Cordero has created a special niche in the directing world. His music videos often incorporate metaphors and imagery in order to convey his message. Working with artists like Jay-Z, Nas, Wale and The Roots, Cordero has perfected his street-style, low budget filmmaking, which has become an acceptable and successful form of art in the mainstream hip-hop world. Recently he has worked with Juelz Santana and Yelawolf on “Mixin Up The Medicine”, which was a nod to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, The Roots, Patrick Stump and pornstar Sasha Grey in “Birthday Girl”, Method Man, Raekwon + Ghostface Killah in “Our Dreams” and Action Bronson on “The Symbol”. Cordero is keen on long form film as well and has won the Best Film Award at The New York International Latino Film Festival for his film “Inside a Change” and recently released “The World is Watching” narrated by Spike Lee and a thriller called “Starla”. His film company, Three/21 currently has over 60 million views on Youtube.
Chris RobinsonChris Robinson is one of the most sought out directors in the business. Directing music videos for the likes of Lil Wayne, Eminem, Jay-Z, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys and T.I. to name just a few, he has created quite a name for himself. You might recognize his work on Lil Wayne’s “Drop The World”, Eminem’s “No Love”, Busta Rhymes “Respect My Conglomerate” and Alicia Keys’ “Fallin”. In addition to his music videos, Robinson has also directed commercials for companies like Coca-Cola, Verizon and Apple. He also has made his feature film debut, directing T.I. and Big Boi in the summer blockbuster “ATL”. Robinson has been nominated for a Grammy Award as well for Nas’ “One Mic” and won the 2011 BET Award for “Director of the Year.” Odds are, if you have watched MTV, VH1, Fuse, BET or any other music station sometime in the last decade, you’ve watched one of Robinson’s 200 music videos. He is also part of the Robot Film Company with Rik Cordero and a few others.
Eif RiveraEif Rivera has been making huge strides in directing over the last couple of years. Directing music videos for 50 Cent in “Major Distribution” featuring Snoop Dogg and Young Jeezy and “First Date” featuring Too $hort, Rivera is quickly becoming one of the major label’s go to guys. He recently has directed Fat Joe, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky + French Montana in “Yellow Tape” and Kidd Kidd in “New Warleans” featuring Juvenile. His music videos are typically glossed out, utilizing lighting effects and special camera lens’ to achieve that look. Although more traditional in his directing methods, his video “New Warleans” shows Rivera is not afraid to explore areas outside of his typical boundaries. Whether he is on the streets or in a more conventional setting, Rivera knows how to add that extra bling and feel to his films.
Hype WilliamsHype Williams is perhaps one of best known directors in the hip-hop community. It could be that his name is Hype, but it also probably has a lot do with his skills and vision as a filmmaker. Transitioning from traditional music videos like R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” to more new age video’s such as Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe”, Williams has shown he is a master at filmmaking regardless of genre. Known for his provocative camera angles and his trademark fish-eye lense technique, Williams has created some of hip-hops most well known videos such as Busta Rhymes’ “Gimme Some More”, Will Smith’s “Gettin Jiggy Wit It” and of course 2 Pac and Dr. Dre’s anthem “California Love”. Creative beyond belief, Williams has pushed the boundaries in videos like “All of the Lights” for Kanye West and “Va Va Voom” for Nicki Minaj. Outside of music videos, he has also been involved with numerous hip-hop documentaries about Mobb Deep, Notorious B.I.G., Nas as well as his feature-length film, "Belly". Active since the early 90’s, Williams is still producing top quality videos and looks as if he will be doing so for some time to come.
Benny BoomBenny Boom is another legend in the directing community. After graduating from Temple University with a degree in film and television and serving as a protege to Hype Williams, Benny has been creating a name for himself as an individual director since the early 00’s. Starting out with videos for Nas including “Oochie Wally” and “Made You Look”, Benny Boom quickly became a household name, going on to direct videos such as Lil Wayne’s iconic “Hustler Musik” and 50 Cent’s “Just A Lil Bit”. He has also done numerous videos for Keyshia Cole including the all girl “Let It Go” featuring Missy Elliot and Lil Kim. He is currently running his film company, Gorilla Flix and has made a number of music videos in 2012 for the likes of Nicki Minaj, Keyshia Cole, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz. He has directed the visuals for “Pound the Alarm”, “Right By My Side” “Enough of No Love” and “We in This Bitch” starring DJ Drama, to name a few.
Director XDirector X has been on his music video grind for quite some time. Starting out as a protege under Hype Williams, X has taken his learnings and applied them to his own style. Known for colorful and highly stylized visuals, Director X has made quite a name for himself, and continues to direct frequently, shooting videos for Drake, Justin Bieber, Usher, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj. To name a few videos, he has directed “HYFR”, “So Good”, “Diced Pineapples”, “Your Love”, “Boyfriend” and the infamous “Yeah!”. Not to overlook his prior career, X has also directed big time videos such as Sean Paul’s “Gimme The Light”, Jay-Z’s “Excuse Me Miss”, Kanye’s “The New Workout Plan”, E-40’s “U And Dat” and Sisqo’s “The Thong Song”. Apart from music, Director X also has a clothing line called “X Fit” and is partly responsible for helping to launch model Melyssa Ford’s career. Needless to say, we definitely owe him a thank you for that one.