NEW YORK — In G. Dep’s “Special Delivery” video, which filmed here last weekend, Dep and his Bad Boy labelmates act as a delivery service not unlike Federal Express.
“We spent a lot of time in Harlem distributing packages, making special deliveries to everyone,” director Nick Quested explained. “We tossed packages out of 12 cars going up 145th Street, with everybody running, trying to get them.
“This time Puff Daddy was down to do a story,” Quested continued. “A lot of times he likes to do performance videos, which aren’t really my thing. I was happy to combine the Bad Boy flavor of the stage set with a tight little story.” (Click for photos from the shoot.)
During Saturday’s shoot, the Bad Boys confined themselves to a soundstage located across the street from the infamous Queensbridge housing projects in the borough of Queens.
One of the day’s first scenes is a performance by Dep and P. Diddy, who wear matching orange shirts and blue khakis, jackets and baseball caps. When the music begins, the Bad Boy CEO mouths, “I go by the name of P. Diddy” as he stands on a white set highlighted by his label’s name in blue and orange neon lights. “He goes by the name of G. Dep.”
After the song’s fadeout, P.D. takes the director’s chair to give the footage the once over. “Right here, deputy,” he says to his protégé, beckoning for G. to sit besides him. “Y’all like me in that?” Diddy asked the small gathering around the monitor.
The shot is just OK. Diddy, the song’s ad-libbing co-star, wants a little more energy from the track’s main attraction.
“We gotta show them how to rock to you,” he coaches, leaning into Dep. “Your style is so unorthodox.”
Even though Dep loosens up during the next take and prances around, Diddy decides to lead by example.
As the director yells for action, P.D. starts to pop a little, then puts his hands on his hips and begins gyrating. Before Quested yells cut, Diddy will pull out an arsenal of dances, including his patented spins, the Robot, the Harlem Shake and the Crip-Walk.
“It’s crunch time now,” Dep said of his song and video before changing outfits. “We did the party thing and had the craze going on with ‘Let’s Get It,’ so we needed something with the same type of vibe. I’m not talking about anything in general in the lyrics. I’m just talking about keeping your mind on the dancefloor and having fun.”
Dep, whose debut, Child of the Ghetto, hits stores November 20, said that one of the things he has absorbed from working with Diddy is that everything — down to the tilt of a cap — has to be perfect.
“He doesn’t try to take over,” Quested said of Diddy’s control-freak reputation. “He just tries to make sure everything is up to the Bad Boy standard. There’s a lot of pressure, but it’s an enjoyable experience because they only want to make the best videos.
“They raise the bar and you have to be ready to go,” he added. “Diddy’s also the cheerleader, so he’s gonna amp everyone up. When he comes on set, the energy level changes dramatically.”
Dep’s relatives and musical kin filter in as evening arrives. The Hoodfellaz, who’ve been waiting for their cameo appearance, pass the time cracking jokes in the dressing area and cat-calling to the models. The one guest star who’s needed immediately for a shot, Black Rob, is nowhere to be found. He eventually shows up and dances for the cameras. P.D., on the other hand, is on his way out.
“As soon as Puff leaves, it’s gonna be off the hook,” Quested joked. “We’re gonna grab a few cases of beer and have a big party.”
Although they’re too young to drink, three teenage boys are the shoot’s highlight. As in “Let’s Get It,” the video in which Dep made his debut, all eyes are on the Harlem Shake.
As a camera hovers overhead to capture their fluid movements, the boys are seemingly boneless as they shake it up, walking on heels and toes to dance a variation of the Twist.
How does Quested motivate his dancers? “I tend to beat them,” he laughed. “That’s the best way. They have to fear for their lives.”