Posts Tagged ‘Gods’

Drake’s Viral Videos Are All Part Of God’s Plan, This Company Proves

“I don’t think there’s a science to it,” Director X says matter of factly. The celebrated music video and film director has been asked a simple but subtly complex question — is there a science to making a viral video? The answer is deflating, but expected. Humans crave formulas, rules, and blueprints, but if art were so easily condensed into a box, then it’d cease to be art.

“I mean, you can never tell what’s gonna quite catch,” he continues. “Things are a little different when you’re making a music video with Drake. He’s Drake. You’re already starting with a record. You’re starting with the right music. Then Drake really works hard to create concepts that are going to get attention.”

Director X knows this better than anybody. He arguably gave Drake his first genuinely viral music video with the bar mitzvah to end all bar mitzvahs in 2012’s “HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)” and followed it up three years later with the eternally meme-able “Hotline Bling.”

Now his intern-turned-protégé Karena Evans has taken the reins. She met the legendary director after producer Boi-1da, a mutual friend, shared his personal contact information. Evans, 22, reached out and, in her words, told him, “‘Listen, this is who I am. You don’t know me, but I want to work for you and I just want to show you what I can do.’”

Now, Evans is responsible for five of the biggest music videos of 2018: Drake’s “God’s Plan,” “Nice For What,” “I’m Upset,” and “In My Feelings,” and SZA’s “Garden (Say It Like Dat)” starring Donald Glover. Each has predictably gone viral, garnered millions of views, and positioned the young director as one of the most in-demand filmmakers.

Drake really works hard to create concepts that are going to get attention.

Dynamic, vibrant, and kinetic, Evans’s videos have a warmness and directness that aren’t generally associated with big-budget, major label-backed music videos. Take her latest visual for “In My Feelings.” Over the course of eight minutes, it manages to show off Drake’s endearing side by letting him channel his acting roots, introduces the eternal grace and maternity of Phylicia Rashad to a new generation, pays homage to New Orleans culture, and showcases the overwhelming joy of the “In My Feelings” challenge. And yet, it never feels overstuffed.

Her mentor Director X doesn’t believe in a formula for viral success. Neither does Evans. Exceptional videos, she says, have to express two important elements.

“Let’s capture culture. Let’s capture authenticity,” she explains. “For something like ‘God’s Plan,’ it was like, let’s capture real people and tell a story about giving back and that came from Drake’s heart. So I think the first thing is like, you gotta really believe and you gotta mean it for it to translate through that screen.”

Capturing culture is not only a perfect description of “God’s Plan.” It’s also the ethos of Popp Rok, the Toronto production company built by Director X, executive producer Taj Critchlow, and production head Adam Palmer to give young and diverse directors like Evans and LeSean Harris a chance.

“We’re probably the only black executive producers at a production company, let alone the fucking country,” Critchlow says emphatically.

Popp Rok was formed almost two years ago. The objective, Critchlow explains, was to create something “from Toronto that represents us, the city we love and where we’re from, but we also wanted to create a company that competes on an international level.”

That objective bleeds through the conversation of every person working at Popp Rok. Palmer grew up in the city and remembers a time before Drake and The Weeknd helped shine a light on a place that was artistically overlooked in terms of hip-hop and R&B.

“We been telling you guys for years how dope this thing is and how multi-cultured and able and just a melting pot of music and people and visuals and just creative [this city is],” Palmer shares. “And we knew it for a minute, and it’s just nice to be a part of something where people are kind of really recognizing our work, but recognizing that we’re a Toronto company.”

Let’s capture culture. Let’s capture authenticity.

Defiant, confident, and direct, the men are candid about the hurdles they faced getting Popp Rok to where it is now. “They’re not used to seeing guys like us in the room,” Critchlow continues. “A lot of times, because we come from a music-video background, they kinda look at us like, ‘You sure you can do this commercial?’”

However, the challenges don’t always come from the business side. Evans’s recent visuals have often dropped during some of the most turbulent portions of her clients’ careers. Evans helped turn SZA’s “Garden (Say It Like Dat)” into a tropical oasis, which was a needed reprieve during a summer where the TDE singer was maneuvering through multiple performance and personal issues. Evans also released her Degrassi-inspired video for Drake’s “I’m Upset” while the Toronto rapper was embroiled in his beef with Pusha T. How do those external factors impact her visuals?

“I think I would be kind of naive and ignorant to not see those sort of things,” she says. “I do think that it’s my job as a storyteller to still communicate the story regardless of those other factors. I guess for me personally, Popp Rok is kind of the enabler for my creative expression, so it’s just been a blessing that those significant things have worked in terms of timing of when I’m working with those artists.”

The success of Popp Rok is indebted to the importance of history and lineage. The legendary music video director Hype Williams gave Director X an internship over 20 years ago, and now the same kid who worked on Williams’s film Belly is directing films of his own. Even on the set of his latest feature film, Superfly, X and the team at Popp Rok are still looking to give young and diverse talent a chance. It’s the reason a new director like LeSean Harris can leverage directing videos for OVO Sound’s dvsn into a larger gig working on a Miguel music video for Superfly.

“We wanted to make sure that we had this platform to give opportunities for the next X and the Karenas now of the world and the LeSean Harrises and the Aaron As,” Critchlow explains. “We wanted to make sure that the trials and tribulations that we went through, as far as leaving Toronto to go to New York City and abroad to really make a name for ourselves, to finally be accepted back home — we wanted to make sure that these kids and these storytellers, these directors… they have a portal that they can build from.”

That portal is only getting bigger, but it remains in the city where it all started.


We Break Down Where Drake’s $1 Million Went In The ‘God’s Plan’ Video

Drake has been in a giving mood, and it all came to fruition in the video for “God’s Plan.” Over the course of almost six minutes, we see crying faces, smiling children, and Drake’s generosity at the center of it all. Drizzy even hopped on Instagram stories to ask his followers to get into the giving spirit.

“I am not into challenges on IG,” wrote Drake. “I find them annoying…but today I am going to challenge everyone to just go out and do something for someone, anything, the smallest thing, just to bring another human being some joy and please tag me in it somehow so I can see all the love being spread.”

Viewers know the 6 God gave away $ 996,631.90 to the residents of Miami in the “God’s Plan” video, which begs the question — where did all of that money go? There is so much happening onscreen that if you blink, you might miss the latest good deed from Toronto’s reigning king.

Below, MTV News compiled a rundown of Drake’s best deeds and how much they cost. Unfortunately, we probably didn’t catch them all.

  1. OVO Market Sweep

    Total: $ 50,000

    Drake gave Miami residents the most epic game of Supermarket Sweep. “Anything you guys want in the store is free,” Drizzy says through a megaphone in the middle of the grocery store. According to E! News, the trip cost Graham $ 50,000.

  2. Started Out Doin’ College Shows

    Total: $ 50,000

    The Miami Hurricane reported that Drake gave a $ 50,000 check to Destiny James, a junior studying public health at the University of Miami. In an Instagram post thanking Drake, James wrote, “You don’t understand what this means to me. I would’ve never imagined this happening to me. I’m just a girl from Denmark, SC that wants to MAKE IT and be somebody and for you to see my hard work means the world. Thank you so much. God I thank you.”

  3. Icy Like the Frost School

    Total: $ 10,000

    Drake can also be seen giving the University of Miami Frost School of Music a $ 10,000 donation in the video.

  4. Toy Story

    Total: $ 69,500 donation = $ 50,000 directly to the shelter + $ 19,500 in Target gift cards to families

    Drake donated a $ 50,000 check to the Lotus House Women’s Shelter, which supports and provides for homeless women and children. On top of the donation, the Toronto rapper also handed out $ 150 Target gift cards to 130 women and toys for all the children, TMZ reports.

  5. Fast Times At OVO High

    Total: $ 25,000

    A significant portion of the “God’s Plan” video was filmed at Miami Senior High School in South Florida. Drake did more than let students be extras in the visual, He also gave $ 25,000 to the school and agreed to design OVO uniforms for the scholars, reports ABC News.

  6. Fire And Desire

    Total: $ 20,000

    The City of Miami Fire Department also got some love from Graham with a $ 20,000 check.

  7. Shut Down Saks Fifth

    Total: $ 10,000 (honestly, probably a lot more)

    The 6 God took over Saks Fifth for a special woman, Odelie Paret. The head of OVO was inspired by a Miami Herald story, which details how the housekeeper’s commute can take almost three hours as she works at a physically demanding job to support her family. Drake and Antonio Brown from the Steelers reportedly treated the woman to a spa day, dinner at StripSteak, and a shopping spree.

  8. Random Acts Of Kindness

    Total: Priceless

    Honestly, Drake gives away so much in the “God’s Plan” video it is almost impossible to calculate it all without calling up the OVO accountant. We may never know what deal Drizzy got on the cars or the stack of cash he hands out to each family. Thankfully, that isn’t the point. You don’t have to be one of the biggest rappers alive to make someone’s day. Sometimes all it takes is some well-choreographed dance moves and a kind deed.


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