It’s only the third week of 2017, but I’m comfortable going on the record and calling Young Thug’s “Wyclef Jean” video the best video of the year.
However, it’s probably not even fair to call it Thugger’s video.
If you haven’t seen “Wyclef Jean”, the premise is simple. Young Thug contacted Pomp&Clout about directing his music video and sent them an audio clip of himself discussing his video with his team. Ryan Staake brought Thugger’s vision of bad bitches and Power Wheels only to have the star never show to any of the shoots. The only footage that features the star is a short clip that he shot himself featuring a private jet and Cheetos.
The way the video was handled after this is absolutely iconic. Rather than trashing the video, Staake takes it upon himself to use the money he was commissioned and the tune to tell the story of how his shoot fell apart using the b-roll shots he was able to shoot, paired with visuals of where he would have put Thugger if he ever showed up… and it’s far better than it would have been if the shoots had actually taken place.
There is something so simply hilarious about this concept. The viewer never once sees Staake get angry or frustrated with the situation (although in an interview with Pigeons and Planes he admits that he was). You solely get to watch what was supposed to be a very simple, yet epic, video go up in flames, which is ironic since Saake mentions that lighting the budget on fire was his original video concept.
Saake sprinkles in simple, dry humor throughout the video too. There’s a spot where he points out a bat that is bending in the air, only to let us know that the bat was rubber and bats in fact do not bend like that. He tells us that the cute little kid cop was flown in from Mississippi on Young Thug’s dime, but that we should watch out for the actual cops that tried to shut down the shoot late in the video. Saake even includes footage that a behind the scenes crew from Vice filmed: a simple blank screen with the title “label rep screaming” going across it. He also points out that he was asked to take out a scene where girls were wearing leashes and pulling along Thugger in his Power Wheels vehicle because of “impressionable children.” The humor in this lies not in the fact that it causes you to imagine some kid riding on his school bus, in a fake Bape hoodie and fake Yeezys, with “Jeffery” uploaded onto his iPhone: it’s quite an image. What I think is that it’s so genius that while Saake could have thrown the video away, or pieced together b-roll to make a very boring video, he used simple humor to create a piece of art. This video is an actual entertaining music video, and one of the few of the past decade that has actually held my attention and I see myself revisiting again and again.
In a world of visual albums and high production videos, “Wyclef Jean” is the breath of fresh air we’ve been craving. There’s quality production in this video, but unlike any Beyonce video, it’s not trying to portray a bigger message. It’s so simple and that’s what makes it so iconic. It’s easily more entertaining that Kanye West’s “Fade” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” There hasn’t been a video like it, and it’s just what the industry has been in need of.
In conclusion, if “Wyclef Jean” doesn’t win every video of the year award then we know the system is rigged.