2 Chainz is a funny dude.
Whether through amusing and endearingly unconventional punch lines or his gig hosting the GQ web series Most Expensivest Shit, Chainz’s sense of humor is an integral part of what makes him so lovable. And his “Watch Out” video, up for Best Hip-Hop Video at this Sunday’s 2016 VMAs, falls right in line.
Directed by Motion Family — a trio comprised of David Ka, Diwang Valdez, and Sebastian Urrea, who have worked with Lil Wayne, YG, Jeezy, and many more — the video stars 2 Chainz’s head on the bodies of everyone from babies to the president of the United States. MTV News talked with the three directors about the inspiration for and story behind the memorable visuals.
Who approached who for this video?
David Ka: [2 Chainz] approached us. The video commissioner at Def Jam first emailed and told me about it, and the idea for it was completely different from what we have now. I didn’t hear anything back for another five months. By the time that we were getting ready to shoot, she came back and said 2 Chainz had another idea. She sent us a link to a Drake video where he had a bunch of different faces [“Energy”], but obviously we didn’t want to do the same thing. I had been at this Indian restaurant, and there was this video of an Indian artist that had this dollhouse with all these big heads, and I thought that idea worked better while still being able to use his concept of him in different scenarios.
So then you shot that idea back to him?
Ka: Yeah. He was cool. And he wanted things that would be relevant — he was talking about Kanye dancing and Rick Ross moonwalking. Things that were memorable on the internet. So we thought of all these other ideas that are popular in internet culture. We had [Lil] TerRio dancing with 2 Chainz’s head. Just things that were catching on virally.
How much of it was archival clips versus stuff you shot?
Ka: Most of the video we reshot. The “Why You Lyin’” guy — we just found somebody that’s the perfect dude that did a really good impersonation of the way that dude moves. We tried to get the real guy that actually did it, but he couldn’t make it. We had [archival stuff of] Kanye doing that funny dance that he does and we had Rick Ross moonwalking [that didn’t make the video].
There was a presidential shot of someone looking like they were in the Oval Office. Was that President Obama or a look-alike?
Valdez: That was a real clip.
What’s the process for getting and being able to use that?
Ka: We found a site that we could license the clip off of. So we licensed that one clip, and put 2 Chainz’s head on. If you look closely, we changed out all the pictures in the background as well.
Valdez: I did a photoshoot for Paper magazine recently, and I took photos of him and his kids and we put those photos in the frame.
Everyone that you were shooting — did they know 2 Chainz’s head was going to end up on their bodies?
Valdez: Yeah, we explained it to them. With the old people, the old dude dabbing — we kind of explained it to them. We basically just told them what to do.
Was the song playing, like it would be for any normal video shoot?
Valdez: Yeah, exactly.
What was the process like in post to get his head on all these people? It looked seamless, like it was actually him.
Ka: The first thing we did is a rough cut of the video without 2 Chainz’s head on anything, to see how they liked the different scenarios and cuts. To go back — the shoot was a two-day shoot. The first day was a green screen, and we had five cameras set up. We did, like, a 180 around 2 Chainz to get as many different angles as we could. The second day is when we shot all the scenarios. With the edit, for the second cut, we did the green screen heads in all the cuts with the green screen in it, to see if they would approve all the heads rapping. Once that was approved, we sent it off to our guy Greg, who I believe was in Sweden, and he did all the visual post effects, where he took the heads out and actually added them onto the characters and sent it back to us.
How did 2 Chainz respond when he saw it?
Valdez: At first, we had to show it to him without the heads on it, and explain that it was gonna be funny. Once we did show it to him with the actual effects on it, his management was telling me he would watch it over and over and just crack up. He thought it was really funny.
Tune in to the 2016 VMAs, live from New York on Sunday, August 28, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.