JAY-Z Praises Hype Williams & Says He Made "Can’t Knock the Hustle" Feel "Like Cinema"

JAY-Z recently reflected on Hype Williams' immense influence.

BYCole Blake
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JAY-Z heaped praise on Hype Williams during a rare interview with Complex published on Wednesday. The legendary rapper says Williams' influence was responsible for 50 percent of the success of the music at the height of his career. The topic began with JAY-Z reflecting on the making of "Can't Knock The Hustle."

“‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’ felt like cinema,” JAY-Z told the outlet. “We also have to talk about Malik [Haseen Sayeed], the cinematographer Hype worked with. The cinematography was just so beautiful and the way it was shot it just elevated it to another level. We weren’t spending that sort of money then to finish the pyrotechnics. So when the limousine blows up it’s really janky, you know. But the vision and the cinematography was just beautiful and his eye was just different. The combination between Hype and June [Ambrose] elevated our look and feel. I remember people talking about how great a video it was.”

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Hype Williams At The VH1 Hip Hop Honors

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Hype Williams speaks onstage VH1 Hip Hop Honors: The 90s Game Changers at Paramount Studios on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images)

JAY-Z continued: “I would say that Hype could take credit for 50 percent of the success of the music at that time. If not 55 percent. We gave people an audio experience that they imagined in their mind and when he put those visuals to it, it took it to a whole new level. I remember hearing [Busta Rhymes’] ‘Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See’ on Hot 97 and thinking this song is crazy. We played it a thousand times that night. But when I saw the visual, I was like, oh, this is a rock n’ roll record. This is way bigger than a nice club song. This is a cultural moment for us.”

Hype Williams has directed music videos for many of the biggest artists in hip-hop over the years including Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Boyz II Men, Wu-Tang Clan, 2Pac, Busta Rhymes, and many more. He also directed the cult classic 1998 film, Belly, which starred Nas and DMX.

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About The Author
Cole Blake is currently an Editor at HotNewHipHop based out of Brooklyn, New York. He began working at the site as an intern back in 2018 while studying journalism at St. John’s University. In the time since, he’s graduated with a bachelor's degree and written extensively about a wide range of topics including pop culture, film & television, politics, video games, sports, and much more. He’s also covered music festivals such as Gov. Ball and Rolling Loud. You can find him publishing work for HNHH from Monday to Wednesday or on weekends. On the sports front, Cole’s a passionate NBA and NFL fan with his favorite teams being the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Lakers. He also roots for the Yankees whenever he finds himself at Yankee Stadium or the Red Storm when in the company of other SJU alumni. His favorite hip-hop artists are billy woods, Earl Sweatshirt, Cam’ron, MIKE, and Mach-Hommy.