Music Article

Splitting Images

Harold ''Hype'' Williams talks about his music videos -- We discuss and review the director's videos for LL Cool J, Beyonce and more

Harold ''Hype'' Williams talks about his music videos

As one of the biggest music video directors of the '90s, Harold ''Hype'' Williams won fame for shooting with a fish-eye lens (think Busta Rhymes' ''Gimme Some More''). His signature trick became a cliché toward the decade's end, however, and such clients as Missy Elliott and Usher turned to newcomers like Little X and Dave Meyers for creative companionship. Last year, the auteur's stock rebounded when he directed Kanye West's clip for ''Gold Digger,'' yet a survey of his recent work finds him recycling a new conceit: a three-segment screen, with superfluous footage appearing above and below a central letterbox frame. Herewith, Williams defends his new gimmick — and EW reviews it!

''CHECK ON IT''
Beyoncé featuring Bun B and Slim Thugg (Columbia)
Williams: ''The concept was to make everything pink to brand the relationship with The Pink Panther. The pink sails reflect the wind instrument sound of the string section.''

EW: Pink is the theme. We get it. But we'd rather see more Beyoncé in the extra frames than watch satin sails blowing in the breeze. B+

''UNPREDICTABLE''
Jamie Foxx featuring Ludacris (J)
Williams: ''This song reminds me of an overcrowded party, but we didn't have an overcrowded party to shoot, so I used the top and bottom of the frame to give it that overblown feeling.''

EW: There's way too much going on in this video. But even if Williams had abandoned the dizzying collage of R&B clichés and condensed the action into one central frame, it'd still be lame. D+

''MY HOOD''
Young Jeezy (Def Jam)
Williams: ''This record has a big parade sound, so we wanted to overwhelm people with how we felt about the hood. We added the gold frame to put a stamp on what we're trying to convey.''

EW: No gaudy frame can save this video—with its tired scenes of run-down storefronts, graffiti, and folks on porches — from looking like every other ode to a rapper's hometown (here, Atlanta). C+

''CONTROL MYSELF''
LL Cool J featuring Jennifer Lopez (Def Jam)
Williams: ''J. Lo's vocals are doubled on this record, so that's where I got the idea for the kaleidoscopic images of Jen in the letterbox.''

EW By turning the camera sideways and using the full length of the frame to get a head-to-toe shot of J. Lo, Williams delivers the finest execution of his new technique. A-

Originally posted Apr 14, 2006 Published in issue #873 Apr 21, 2006 Order article reprints
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