Remember when J. Cole murdered Miguel in his “Power Trip” video ? It hasn’t been easy to shake that visual since the clip debuted on Tuesday, so it’s not too surprising that J. Cole’s management team was hesitant about calling up the “Adorn” singer to ask him about playing the doomed role.
The Roc Nation rapper told MTV News that he had the video’s concept nailed down while penning the Born Sinner single, since it was a storyline continued from his 2009 mixtape track “Dreams.”
“When I was writing the song, I had the vision for the video, so I knew early on,” Cole shared. But he hadn’t initially figured Miguel into the equation, although co-directors Nabil and Mike Piscitelli were on board.
Cole’s manager Mark Pitts signed Miguel to his record deal and set the two up on their first collaboration “All I Want Is You,” so naturally, Cole reached out about how to incorporate the singer. “I told them, ‘I got the concept for the video, but really it’s not a performance video, so I don’t even know if Miguel could fit in here ’cause the concept is this,’ but then the moment of clarity came.
“This is the only way he could fit in the video,” Cole said, remembering the exchange. ” ‘Check it out; it sounds crazy, but hear me out. He’s gonna be the boyfriend.’ [But] because I’m going and killing the boyfriend, they’re hearing it and these guys … were clearly not thrilled about the idea.
“A week goes by, and I’m like, ‘What’s up with Miguel? I haven’t heard nothing back, we’re tryna move on the video, get the location, get the dates,’ and everybody’s real hesitant, like, ‘Oh we haven’t gotten a chance to pitch it to him,’ and I finally realize what’s happening … nobody has the balls to go to Miguel and tell him.” At this point, Cole figured he had to take matters into his own hands if anything was going to be accomplished, so he called Miguel.
“I was really hype explaining it to him, and after I tell him the concept I say, ‘I want you to be the boyfriend, getting murdered,’ and he was just like ‘It’s crazy you say that because right as you were telling me the story, [I] thought I should be the boyfriend, I should be the one getting killed.’ So he was down for it, but it just took me to have that creative conversation with him.”
Although his team was hesitant to pass along the message, Cole wasn’t surprised that his future co-star was already on the same wavelength. “It’s art,” he said. “We’re just playing a role, and Miguel is a true artist, so he got it right away. It’s not gonna mess up his image; if anything, it makes him look real ’cause he would do that role so willingly.”
Cole shot a majority of the video in his hometown Fayetteville, North Carolina, except for that final scene where he buries Miguel out in the woods on the outskirts of the city.