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V Exclusive: “On To The Next One” Director Sets The Record Straight

When Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One” video premiered New Year’s Eve, the black-and-white clip, with its ominous images of animal horns, crucifixes, and skulls, sparked a barrage of conspiratorial questions. Was Jigga a Freemason? Was the clip backed by the all-powerful Illuminati? And just how in the hell did Jay get the new Jaguar XJ before it even hit the U.S.? Award-winning UK-based video director Sam Brown, the visionary behind clips for Corinne Bailey Rae (“Put Your Records On”), James Blunt (“You’re Beautiful”) and the Foo Fighters (“Wheels”), has the answers to all those questions and more. After all, the man directed Jay’s avant-garde statement. Brown goes on the record. ––Keith Murphy

VIBE: When you were first approached about directing Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One” did you feel you had to shoot the video differently considering it was hip-hop?
Sam Brown: It was important to ignore the fact that it was a hip-hop video, and simply make a video. It was going to be radical almost by default because the hip-hop video is an oddly conservative genre…it seems more stuck in its message than other types of music videos. But also, I wanted to make a video that appealed to hip-hop fans.

There’s been a lot of talk about Jay’s video containing Freemason imagery such as the horned animal head, an eagle and skull. What are your thoughts about such talk and why do you think music fans are so quick to believe a conspiracy narrative? I’m aware of the stir the video has caused and what people are saying. I think when you’re dealing in abstract imagery people are going to want to draw lines between things and make sense of it. However, I’ve always felt that the viewing public was, in general, extremely visually literate. They don’t always want or need things to be spelt out for them. One of the great things about music videos are they can be enjoyed purely visually—it doesn’t need to mean anything or make any sense. Conspiracy theory is another thing entirely, and seems to me to be about projecting pre-existing beliefs and desperately looking for things that confirm them. There is imagery in this video that is drawn from all over the place. None of it is owned by any one culture or belief system. You can connect anything if you try hard enough, and make it mean anything you want it to.

Were there any differences between filming the more low-key likes of the Corinne Bailey Rae and James Blunt and an in-your-face artist like Jay-Z?
I tend to approach all types of artists in the same way. I try not to have preconceived ideas of who an artist is, or what they’re going to like. Whoever they are it’s good to take chances with them, and to ignore what they’ve done before.

Did Jay come up with the avant-garde treatment for the video? If so, do you think he (or yourself) was aware of the talk that some of the imagery would ignite?
[To] tell the truth, I wouldn’t speak for Jay. I know he really liked the video. He strikes me as a very intelligent and forward-thinking person and I have huge respect for him and his label for wanting to bring something different. As the man says, he uses his cojones.

Touché. So what was the overall direction Jay was looking for?
He gave me a very loose brief, and made it clear that we should be progressive with the video. All the imagery was thought up by me and was a response to the track itself. For those interested, the idea is actually about a funeral for old imagery and ideas, hence all the gothic and oppressive stuff. I was also trying to contradict the excess of hip-hop videos by making something brutally simple and claustrophobic.

How were you able get the new Jaguar XJ before its commercial US release?
Jay-Z’s a very influential man.

You have also done television commercials. Is that how you got your start in the industry?
Actually I started in music videos and moved over into commercials. Budgets were plummeting in videos, and it was becoming very hard to do what I wanted to do creatively. [As for the future], I’m filming two commercials back to back, one in Buenos Aries and one back home. I hope to do another video after that if I can.

Has “On To The Next One” wet your appetite to direct more hip-hop videos?
Yes, I think so. But there would have to be a reason to do it, I guess. With Jay-Z, there was.

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Nicky Jam And Ozuna's "Te Robare" Video Transports Them To Another World

Nicky Jam and Ozuna are on a mission to get the girl they want at all costs. A black and white montage serves as the backdrop for their playful new video for their latest single, “Te Robare,” which translates into the mischievous: “I’ll steal you.”

Throughout their performance, a bevy of beautiful women have brief interludes that go from talking in a vaporized infused telephone booth to breaking into a sexy dance group sequence. "We are very happy to be able to share this new single with the fans of the reggaetón genre, we are sure that they will enjoy this song as much as we do,” Nicky said in a press release.

Despite the video featuring a slew of women, it's worth noting that it looks sexy but classic. Jam prides himself in creating this type of imagery in his visuals. In 2017, he told Billboard, "Our audience is so broad that we have to make videos where women look beautiful and conservative and are treated with respect because the videos are seen by kids and adults," he said. "Other reggaetóneros who do what they do are targeting one audience. They don’t have the same responsibility we do."

In addition to releasing new music, Nicky Jam is kicking off his "Intimo Tour 2019" on April 11 in Chicago and will go through the month of May. Watch the video for "Te Robare" above.

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Premiere: Tommie of 'Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta' Calls On Anthony Hamilton For 'Truth' Music Video

"With every trial is a testimony!" Tommie tells VIBE. "Here is mine."

With that, the The Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta star drops her new music video for "Truth." The song sees her recounting a lifetime of struggles - sexual assault, birthing her child in jail, homelessness, and more, while a soulful Anthony Hamilton sings a hook that congratulates her for how far she's come. The video, directed by illHD and Tommie herself, splits between its own storyline and vintage footage of her life.

“This is/was my real life! Beyond the lights. I wanted to share with the people the back story, my whole truth," Tommie said. "In doing so I hope to motivate others struggling with their truth to not be afraid and be inspired to not give up!”

Watch the video for Tommie and Anthony Hamilton's "Truth" above.

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Rich The Kid, Nav, And More Friday Music Releases You Need To Hear

Mar. 2019 was a pretty slow month, but we are back with a new list of the hottest Friday releases. From Rich the Kid to Nav and more, here are all of the Friday music releases that you need to hear below.

Enjoy!

Rich The Kid – The World Is Yours 2

Rich the Kid is back with The World Is Yours 2. The 16-track project features Offset, Big Sean, Tory Lanez, Gunna, Ty Dolla $ign, and more. The album also includes the pre-released singles, "Splashin'" and "4 Phones."

This is Rich the Kid's second studio album. It is a sequel to The World Is Yours, which was released in Mar. 2018.

Listen to Rich the Kid's new album below.

Apple Music  Spotify Tidal

Nav – Bad Habits

Nav's sophomore studio album is here. Bad Habits consists of 16 tracks and includes guest appearances by Meek Mill, The Weeknd, Young Thug, Gunna, and more.

Nav dropped the tracklist and video teaser ahead of the album's release. The preview includes behind-the-scenes footage of the rapper's past live concerts.

The album is completely produced by The Weeknd. Listen to Bad Habits below.

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Cantrell – DEVIL NEVER EVEN LIVED

With a memorable freestyle on Sway In the Morning and Mass Appeal's recently concluded Starting 5 tour under his belt, Albany, Ga. rapper Cantrell has settled down to release his sophomore EP, DEVIL NEVER EVEN LIVED. The second half of a two-EP anthology started with Stardust 2 Angels (2018), Cantrell's new project is anchored by the singles "Fo Five" and "Know It's Wrong" and shares heavy, internalized storytelling with hauntingly beautiful production.

“I wanted to go deeper into me, what I’ve come from, and how that may have shaped the young man that created Stardust 2 Angels,” Cantrell said in a statement about the album. “I wanted to show it all, the good and the bad that brought me to this point... I’m asking for listeners' time so they deserve that much, if not more.”

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Megan Thee Stallion – "Sex Talk"

Raunch and debauchery ensue in Megan Thee Stallion's newest single "Sex Talk." The track, which arrived early Friday morning (March 22), is sexy, empowering, and strong as the 24-year-old takes charge of her sexual nature in this single that puts a women's pleasure over a man's.

"Can I f**k ya to a trap beat? He said girl you tryin' to trap me?/Ah hell nah, ni**a no I ain't (What?)/You can hit that door, here go ahead leave," she raps over the bass-heavy beat.

"Sex Talk" is projected to land on the Houston rappers forthcoming album Fever, which is slated to hit streaming shelves in Apr 2019. Stream the Stallion's "Sex Talk" below.

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Jacquees ft. Lil Baby – "Your Peace"

Jacquees, or the King of R&B, as he likes to call himself, just released a new single featuring Lil’ Baby. “Your Peace” features Jacquees' signature sound and the Atlanta rapper riding on the R&B beat. Listen to the track to hear the two Georgia artists try to find peace with a special someone.

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