Outkast’s Andre 3000 is allergic to following trends. If the rest of the
hip-hop nation is busy making videos showing off their spinners and pimp cups, you
can bet Dre will be running in the other direction.
Luckily, his longtime collaborator and friend, video director Bryan Barber, totally gets Dre’s style, which (somewhat) explains the look of the video for “Hey Ya!,” the first single
from The Love Below, Dre’s half of Outkast’s new double album, due Tuesday.
“I had that song about a year ago and one day I was sitting in the car with
Dre and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we did a video with a spin on the
Beatles’ first appearance on ‘Ed Sullivan?’ ” Barber said. “With the way the song
is arranged, with all these different levels and characters, it is something
we could pull off and it would be totally different from what anyone would
expect Outkast to do.”
Dre had never seen the Beatles footage, so the excitement of watching it more
than half a dozen times with Barber gave him the idea for a fresh spin on the
clip. “Dre was really into it. But he never wants to repeat anything,” Barber
said. “So he said, ‘Let’s not do Sullivan. Let’s make it seem like the
Americans invaded England.’ That’s why the Love Below Band is performing on an
English show in the video, but eliciting the same kind of wild response the
Beatles did when they first played Sullivan’s program in February of 1964.”
The cleverly edited clip melds the screeching-girl excitement of Beatlemania
with the “Matrix”-like sight of the eight-man Andre 3000 supergroup performing the song. Though the high-energy rapper brings all the characters to life and makes it seem easy, the shoot required some mind-numbing work.
Filmed over two days in August on a soundstage at the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles with a cast of more than 100 screaming female extras, Barber said the shoot was fun, but grueling. “The girls were so energetic and they loved the song so much that they stayed after they were done and watched Dre’s performance,” the director said. “It wasn’t like they were running for the door right after they were done.”
While the extras were merely expected to get excited and “shake it like a Polaroid picture,” Dre had to perform the song top to bottom 23 times, said Barber, who also directed the clips for Outkast’s “The Whole World” and “Land of a Million Drums.”
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“He had to do each character three times because we would shoot each one from three different angles. I’ve been best friends with Dre for a long time and I know about all the instruments he plays and his passion for music. This video was the perfect way to express that. I told him he should play all the characters and instruments, because no other artist could pull this off. Dre is always willing to take a chance.”
Dre plays eight different characters in the clip: mellow acoustic
guitarist Johnny Vulture, funky backup trio the Love Haters, bassist Possum
Jenkins, crazed drummer Dookie Blasingame, lead singer Andre “Ice Cold” 3000 and
nerdy keyboardist Benjamin Andre.
The repeat performances might explain why bandleader “Ice Cold” 3000 is a
kinetic ball of energy, bouncing and shimmying all over the stage, while
Vulture, filmed last, spends most of his time sitting on a stool, smiling and
chilling. “At that point, Andre was really tired,” Barber said of the final series of shots.
Barber, 29, was reluctant to divulge the secret of how he was able to combine
all the performances together seamlessly. The only thing he would say was
that it was an old Hollywood trick using a special “motion control” camera that
allows a director to lock the camera off and shoot people in the same frame,
then edit them together afterwards.
If he’s not going to reveal his secrets, Barber could at least explain why a
coffin full of flowers is sitting in the middle of the stage on an otherwise
shiny, happy set, right?
“We originally had a totally different song and different idea for the video that involved a casket,” Barber explained. “But we decided we should keep the casket anyway, since the name of the album is The Love Below, which kind of ties in. The album is about a guy searching for love: his love of music, women, his mother, and we wanted to bring the casket in to play up the theme of this guy wondering, ‘Is love dead? And can we revive it?’ ”
Barber said the concept (and the coffin) will tie into the other videos the
pair plan to film for the album, including a clip for “She Lives in My Lap,” which
was to be Dre’s first single. That video, featuring Rosario Dawson, will now
come out next year and coincide with a musical Outkast are shooting for HBO
based on the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below album (see “Outkast Album Preview: From The Whole World To The Entire Universe” ).
Catch all the sizzlin’, star-packed VMA action direct from Miami on August 28. MTV News’ preshow kicks things off at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the big show at 8 p.m.