Director X was one of the preeminent directors during a time of the most expensive hip-hop music videos. Now that the music industry’s revenue has been cut by half since the heyday of the late 1990s, how have music videos changed over the past 20 years?
Daps: It’s been cut by more than half on our side. On the budget side, it's probably 10-fold. I’m serious. It’s 10-fold. That’s the biggest difference. Back then, there were probably fewer videos out. Now anyone can do a video. I can take my phone out right now, shoot a video, put it on my laptop and boom, free distribution on YouTube. I think back then it was more controlled and more of an all-boys club. It was probably harder to get into. It was probably more professional, where you had to go to film school. Back then, they were shooting on film a lot, too. At the same time, I think now, there might be more creativity in hip-hop, even though back then videos had a certain look to them and film quality. Right now, people take more risks. Back then, people would only record videos if they looked a certain way. They had the cars, the women, the champagne. We still have that now, but we also have people doing quirky things. Not saying they weren’t doing it then, either. Busta Rhymes did a bunch of cool stuff. Hype [Williams], X, Dave Meyers, they all did cool stuff back then. But in general, I think creativity is spread more now. There’s also more bullshit now, too.
I grew up in MTV’s Making the Video era where those directors used to shine on. What is the funniest moment you can remember on the set of a video?
Daps: The funniest moment was on the set of the video for Migos’s “What The Price?” It was a long day. For some reason, at the end of it, there was this funny character at the diner. I don’t know what happened, but everyone started having a laughing fit in the diner (laughs). They thought he was super cool or whatever. One person started laughing, then another person started laughing, then Migos were laughing. We really shot a ten-minute laughing fit. We couldn’t film a scene. We had to wrap early because people had a laughing fit and we couldn’t finish filming. Shit was crazy, man.
In those moments, when things go against the schedule, what do you do? Do you try to get them back in order or do you roll with it?
Daps: It depends on what it is and how many shots we have left. Do I really need one more shot or is it a bonus shot? Are we in overtime? But you basically try to roll with the punches. You can’t fight the tide in life, in general. You try to fight the tide and you’ll drown. The best thing to do is, although you might not like the tide, you grab a raft and ride it. There’s no point in fighting it. As I said, it’s situational.
Have you ever shot a scene that, when you saw it, you were blown away that you were able to get the shot?
Daps: I’m not going to lie to you. The very first shot of the [Migos] “T-Shirt” video, we turn the camera on and it was Offset solo performance on the top of the mountains. I was in awe. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It looked fake. It looked like green screen. We were in Lake Tahoe; he had a fox head on. I have never seen something like that in my life where we turned the camera on and it looked fake. I was mesmerized.