Hype Williams on Wayne, Kanye, Beyonce, and His Creative Process
PHOTO COURTESY OF HYPE WILLIAMS
Legendary music video and film director Hype Williams is the man behind the music video for almost every ass-shaking hip-hop megahit of the last two decades—starting in 1991 with BWP’s “We Want Money,” and continuing right up through this year, with Lil Wayne’s video for “6 Foot 7 Foot,” which premiered earlier this month. (We’re so obsessed with the video that we created a guide to sampling its fashion.) He’s a man with an inimitable style, and an enviable Rolodex—in ’95 alone, he filmed nearly 30 videos for acts from Brandy to Boyz II Men to Outkast to ODB, and he hasn’t slowed down since. We chatted with Hype about the “6 Foot 7 Foot” video, the directors who influenced him, being the last of the Mohicans, and the first time he met Lil Wayne (it involves the Diddy Jet).
ALEXANDRIA SYMONDS: Hi Hype! How’s it going?
HYPE WILLIAMS: Hi!
SYMONDS: This is your twentieth year directing music videos—is that right?
WILLIAMS: Yes—sounds a little crazy…
SYMONDS: How do you first approach a song that you’re going to make a video for? How do you keep them all looking different when you do 10 or 20 in a year?
WILLIAMS: Well, I’m a music guy, actually. So, I’m probably one of the last of the Mohicans that really focuses up on what something sounds like first, and then what it looks like second. Breaking it down, the simplicity of it—it’s technically a “music video,” so it’s music first and visuals are supposed to come after, and actually, more function as a complement. This is how I think, so I basically really focus up on what the song is, what it means to people, and try to create something visually that functions or serves as like a—helper. You know what I mean? At the end of the day, what we do is technically supposed to be a marketing tool as well as something creative, so I just look at it like that—how can I best serve the record?