When R. Kelly shot his video for "Step in the Name of Love," he had a hard time finding people who could step with him. That wasn't a problem when he shot a clip for "Happy People."
"The stepping thing has become so big off of 'Step in the Name of Love,' " said Mr. X (formerly Little X), who directed both clips.
"For the young generation, [the dance] was about to be lost. He just brought it to life and has everyone doing it again. It's interesting this time around. When we first did 'Step in the Name of Love,' we couldn't find any young people who knew how to step. ... Now this time, everybody [we auditioned] could step."
Kelly and X filmed the "Happy People" video in the ballroom of Chicago's century-old Congress Hotel, a place that has been frequented by everyone from political figures to gangsters like Al Capone. In the clip, the R. has a big party where everyone dresses up in their best duds and does the step dance.
X said working with Kelly is a pleasure because the Pied Piper's vision is clear from the studio to the video set.
"He played the song for us in the studio and it was happy record, a feel-good record," X proclaimed. "The record itself is the type of music you don't get to hear a lot of nowadays. He's someone that when you sit down with him, he really knows what he wants to do. When you get to the set, it's just about executing ideas you've already talked about before. It's always better when an artist is really in it. When you have somebody that has ideas but allows you to do what you wanna do, that's the perfect partnership."
X, who's helmed popular dance-heavy videos for Kelly, Usher and Sean Paul, said it's really not brain surgery to convey to the movements on the floor to the audience at home. You're filming dancers — the key is to show their feet.
"I've got a lot of dancer friends," he explained. "You sit with dancers and if you watch anything with them, they’ll be like, 'Show the feet!' I remember watching some [TV program that showed] Michael Jackson when he was a little kid trying to watch a James Brown tape. He was like, 'Show the feet. Show the feet!' Everyone loves dancing, everybody."
"Happy People" is the first single from Kelly's next album of the same name, due May 18. The video for "Happy People" should be on the air within the next couple of weeks.