LONG ISLAND CITY, New York — You can call it Hova season. Jay-Z has held press conferences, announced once-in-a-lifetime concerts and, most importantly, put out his first dosages of music from what he's calling his last LP, The Black Album. Last week he premiered the "warm-up" single, "What More Can I Say," and the official first single, "Change Clothes."
On Tuesday night, Young Hova filmed the video for "Change Clothes" with director Chris Robinson. "The song is called 'Change Clothes,' so what better place to change clothes than at a fashion show," Jay explained on set, a few minutes before he shot his first scene.
True to Hovi's words, the clip took you outside on the red carpet, inside on the catwalk and backstage in the dressing at a fashion show. There was a baldheaded girl, ladies with big '80s hair, girls with no rhythm, chicks who knew how to shake their tailfeather and do the mono dance and "gangsta girls" on hand to walk Robinson's faux runway and engage in a play catfight.
In between the models' strutting, Beanie Sigel, who was shooting his first video cameo since his Independence Day arrest in Philadelphia, made his grand appearance (see "Beanie Sigel Arrested, Charged With Attempted Murder").
Sigel seemed to enjoy walking like a model as he pranced the runway with a confident swagger, swinging his State Property jacket over his shoulder, barely able to hold back his smile. Shortly after shooting his scene, Beanie wasn't half-stepping on his way to the exit, though: He's still under house arrest and had to be home in Philly by 8 p.m.
"My ankle is buzzing, I gotta go," the rapper told a lady who wanted to stop and talk to him.
Pharrell Williams, on the other hand, had a little too much time to talk. You couldn't tell if he was dead serious or playing when he complained to Robinson about waiting to shoot his part.
"I'm eating Snickers bars," Pharrell groused about his hunger before breaking into his own version of the mono dance when his recorded voice started to blare out the speakers, "Change clooootheeesss, and go-ohhh."
"I been here all day," Pharrell continued to another member of Robinson's crew. "I need some sleep. The whole vampire thing is cool for you, but I need some sleep."
He needed food more than anything, so the hitmaking producer broke out for a little while to dine at Manhattan's Mr. Chows.
Even with Pharrell's brief departure, Hova wasn't lacking the backing of stars.
Memphis Bleek and boxer Zab "Super" Judah talked in the background while model Naomi Campbell shot scenes with more models on the runway.
"I'm watching you," Jay, all the way at the back of the studio, flanked by his omnipresent burley bodyguard Sampson, yelled to the ladies on the fashion-show set.
"Keep it gangsta," he continued, with his voice going up a few octaves. "That's my word! I like that! I see that! Yeaaaah!"
More people came out throughout the night to see Hov as he performed in the video.
With Mary J. Blige on her way, Beyoncé, who entered the set with little fanfare, sang along with Hov, "Your boy is back," while watching him lip-sync the rhymes as he sat on the edge of the runway next to Campbell.
As Jay kept rapping, Beyoncé, clad in a blue jumpsuit and trucker hat, kept clapping and dancing in her chair as she looked into the monitor.
Later it was a meeting of the super couples around the monitor as Russell Simmons and his wife, Kimora Lee, sat by Jay and Beyoncé to watch the playback of Jigga before Jay had to break for the dressing-room scene, where the models were changing clothes.
"Change Clothes" isn't the only video you'll see come from the Roc in the next few weeks. Memphis Bleek is scheduled to go back to his homelands of the Marcy Projects with T.I. and Trick Daddy for "Round Here," and the Young Gunz were in Brooklyn late last week with Chingy filming the remix video for their hit "Can't Stop, Won't Stop." State Property members Freeway and Oschino and Sparks, the Diplomats' Juelz Santana and Freakey Zeaky, and rap pioneer Doug E. Fresh all cameoed in that clip.