Young Thug’s “Wyclef Jean” video, “co-directed” by Ryan Staake and Young Thug, is a semi-accidental deconstruction of many familiar rap video tropes: cars (pedestrian cars, police cars, and now toy cars), women, phallic food, and porny gestures involving cars and women and phallic food. (Here, two women eat a grotesque kielbasa from either end.)
The whole thing is annotated with notes from Staake, who in said notes tells the narrative of the shoot for the video you’re watching — that he and Young Thug never actually met, because the rapper ultimately never showed up for the $100,000 shoot, leaving them to collage whatever they could from footage of women on toy cars who occasionally leave their toy cars to bludgeon a police car. Young Thug makes an appearance — via footage he sent — rapping while he eats Cheetos. In his notes, Staake describes that Young Thug showed up to the shoot 10 hours late, but then never got out of his car.
Today, Ryan Staake tweeted, “I still can’t believe this it out.” Interestingly, in an interview in tv.booooooom.com, Staake said the most influential music video director for him is Michel Gondry, who incidentally made the other most meta music video out there — Björk’s “Bachelorette.” But the amazing thing is that, despite it coming together in such a way that it all seems like the whole video was meant to be exactly this, it actually was just as accidental as it seems. Staake says in the interview:
The only part of this that was planned was using the audio of [Young Thug] describing what he wanted and building it out piece by piece. Beyond that, its 100% a reaction to the shitty cards I was dealt on this production. The video tells the story of what actually happened, but I agree, that would’ve been quite a concept if I’d planned it all…At first it was incredibly stressful, then extremely aggravating, then I came to terms with it and decided it was legitimately hilarious. I imagine it’s probably close to the feeling one might have when you know you’re going to die and just accept it.
When asked what Young Thug ultimately thought of the finished product, Staake said his team understood that the point of a music video is to garner views, and that this version would be far more likely to do so than if they’d covered up the production failures with an uninventive reshoot. He concludes that having Young Thug not show up probably led to a better music video than what they’d originally been planning. (Indeed, the footage from the shoot itself isn’t, on its own, particularly groundbreaking.)
Young Thug’s Jeffery mixtape (on which the real Wyclef Jean is actually featured on a separate track), was released last year, and made its way onto many of last year’s Best-of lists. The rapper has yet to release his official studio debut — which at least back in 2015 was being called Hy!£UN35.