QUEENS, New York — Mr. Cheeks was so excited to be shooting a music video in his old Southside Jamaica neighborhood with director Zodiac Fishgrease that he mimicked the trademark yell of wrestling legend "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.
"Woooooo!" Cheeks exclaimed Wednesday in his trailer, in between explaining the concept of the song and video for "Crush on You" and deciding which shoes to wear in the next scene.
"This is like taking it back to my sensitivity," Cheeks said, standing up and barely able to move in the overloaded space, which was filled with his crew, including the song's producer and guest star, Mario Winans. "That's how we do. All of us got a little shorty we see in the 'hood. Maybe you don't think you are her type, but you holla at her and let her know you got a crush on her."
"We got together in Miami, I worked on the beat, by the time I was finished with the beat, he was finished with the rhyme," Winans added about the collaboration. "He kicked it to me and really inspired me and I came up with the hook. It's a real passionate joint for the ladies."
Earlier in the day, Cheeks and the Yellowman shot performance scenes in front of an 8-foot sculpture that spelled out the word "Crush," and at night it was time to begin filming the more dramatic scenes with the video's leading lady, former Destiny's Child member Farrah Franklin (see "Destiny's Child Talks Split With Farrah").
"Basically I'm playing the chick he has a crush on," Franklin said while sitting in a trailer next to Cheeks'. "I just got called for it two days ago. I helped [Cheeks] pick out this song for his single, so that's why he called me. Him and my manager are good friends. I loved the song when I heard it and was like, 'That would be a hot video to do.' Cheeks is crazy and I'm feeding off his energy.
"He's gonna be in the car with his boys, I'm gonna be walking and his boys are gonna be like, 'Yo, that's the shorty with the fatty that you like,' " she continued. "Then it's a grocery store scene, so I guess he's gonna be trying to get at me when I'm shopping. I'm dressed like I'm going to a club and I'm shopping. I'm kinda fabulous in this video."
From being fab, to hanging out with Fab — Franklin also disclosed that she'll finally be ready to release her debut solo LP this year, which will come out on Street Family Entertainment, a label started by slick-mouthed MC Fabolous and his managers.
"I'll probably be on some other projects before my album comes out," Franklin explained. "We're talking about [putting out] a single now with me and Fab. It's not named yet. We just did it a week ago. It's a club joint.
"Basically [it's about] a girl going to the club and she sees somebody and so I say, 'So it looks like I'm going to be leaving with you tonight/ It feels so right/ I'm thinking me and you could fall in love,' " she continued. "He's telling me 'Yo ma, I didn't come to the club for that, I'm chilling.' So I'm saying, 'What you come to the club for? You didn't come to dance, you're standing on the wall, so you came to look at the scenery.' "
Franklin, who also has a TV pilot in the works with Miguel A. Nunez called "America's Most Talented," and who is being wooed by DMX to star in his film "Never Die Alone," isn't Cheeks' only co-star keeping busy with a gaggle of projects.
Winans, who just came back from Miami, said P. Diddy had him and the Bad Boy family locked down there in the studio for two months.
"We was down there making nothing but hits," Winans said. "We was real focused, finishing the Mary [J. Blige] album. You know how it is when Puff and Mary get together, he makes that magic for her. We was working on New Edition, Loon, then I was working on Ginuwine, 702, Tamia. I was doing Queen Latifah stuff, Brian McKnight, Method Man, we got a lot of stuff coming."
One thing Mr. Cheeks does not have coming to him is a lawsuit courtesy of Fox Sports. Cheeks originally wanted to name his April release The Best Damn Rap Album Period, which was derived from the network's "Best Damn Sports Show Period," but decided the wiser (see "Mr. Cheeks Promises The Best Damn Rap Album Period").
"Fox called me and said, 'Chill, we're gonna have some beef if you do that, Cheeks," the Lost Boyz frontman laughed. "I said all right. I don't need no beef with Fox Sports, so I named it Back Again.
M.O.P., Alexander O'Neal, Glenn Lewis, Floetry, Joe, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth all appear on the LP, as does Tweet, who sings on the title track.
"We used the original [beat from] 'Car Wash,' " Cheeks said of the song. "She's doing her flow, but we took it back to the '70s for them. I'm a '70s child, so it's only right to get that involved. I always loved the movie 'Car Wash.' I'm back again, woooo!"