Taj Stansberry is feeling the pressure. The affable video director, who has helmed clips for Rihanna (“Don’t Stop The Music”), Amerie (“More Than Love”) and Usher (“Lil Freak”), has the task of helping resuscitate the long-dormant female rap genre. But such high hopes are to be expected when you are the visionary behind Ludacris’ much-talked-about “My Chick Bad” videos, an all-star statement that features rhyme vets Eve, Trina, Diamond and hip-hop’s current it-girl Nicki Minaj. It’s nice work if you can find it. —Keith Murphy
VIBE: There is so much going in the “My Chick Bad” video, from horror movie references to high-end fashion. What type of early ideas did you have for the treatment?
Taj Stansberry: I got the call from Ludacris’ people maybe about a week prior to making the video. It wasn’t like the normal conference call. We talked about the treatment first before they sent me the song. They were like, “Taj, we need this look. Nicki Minaj is on it and we want to do a remix the same day of Super Bowl weekend in Miami.” Early on, it was discussed that they were trying to get a “Flava In Ya Ear” type treatment. But I told them there’s some things you just can’t touch, man. I didn’t want to remake a classic. I wanted to do our own “Flava In Ya Ear.” We are dealing with new technology. We shot it anamorphic. Both [the original and remix] videos are fun and sexy, but street.
Nicki Minaj's look in the song's original video was, um, interesting. How did you come with up with her treatment?
She brings a lot of things to the table, but I felt like because she is new, her animated personality hadn’t come across 100 percent yet. And that was my goal. I wanted to give her all four corners: the lighting, the stage, the props, and the wardrobe. Nicki had these lyrics where she was Jason and Freddie Krueger. She was purposely stuttering on the track, which made her sound like a psycho. And I wanted to play that up. We placed her in a straight-jacket and some chrome Freddie claws and had them painted pink like nail polish. We wanted to make her look crazy, but still feminine. It was a mix of 5150 with Vanity Fair.
"They were all very courteous towards each other. I was like, “Thank you, God. No diss records are coming [laughs]"
With Eve, Diamond and Trina appearing in the remix video, there was the added responsibility helping resurrect the female rapper. Did you feel that added heat?
Not a second went by on that set where someone didn’t come up to my left or right ear and let me know, “You know this is a big responsibility, right?” followed by a laugh. Chaka, Luda and everybody at DTP was saying it. Everybody was well aware that this was a big moment for female rappers. I put up screens everywhere. I had more monitors in my video village than I’ve had had. And I did that on purpose because I felt like this was something that everyone on the set needed to see.
At the end the original song's video, you teased the remix's guest cameos. Didn't want to hit fans from out of nowhere?
Originally we went back and forth with it. We wanted to surprise people with the second video. But we felt like the “My Chick Bad” video was going to have such a good response after our last cut that we had to let people know that there was more to come. It’s all about building up suspense. I’m glad the final decision was made.