DRE Films Talks Rick Ross’ MMG Takeover, Love For Visuals, And Gunplay

How does DRE Films find time to do an interview? It’s a random question that the man in charge of heading Maybach Music Group’s film and marketing division is struggling to answer. After all, when you are the visual brains behind arguably the most omnipresent rapper on the scene today, Rick Ross, you more than have your hands full. From directing videos (among the many clips Ross’ “Rich Forever” and “Yella Diamonds,” Meek Mill’s “Amen” and Wale’s “Ambition”) to overseeing MMG’s viral and blogging campaigns, DRE has built a praise-worthy reputation within the music business.

Now with the news that Rozay’s fifth album God Forgives, I Don’t is set to debut no. 1 with first week SoundScan sales of 220,000, DRE won’t be getting any sleep anytime soon. VIBE caught up with the visual talent to discuss his love for video direction, Rick Ross’ evolution as MMG’s boss, Gunplay’s swastika tattoo, why Meek Mill’s stardom was a surprise, and much more.—Keith Murphy

On other videos I did a lot of videos for Ross’ Rich Forever. ‘So Sophisticated’ ‘High Definition,’ ‘Yella Diamonds’, ‘Swear To God,’ Wale’s ‘Ambition’…Meek’s ‘House Party’ and ‘Amen’
Can you talk about the first time you met Rick Ross? What is your earliest memory of him?
The first time I met Ross was at a music video shoot that I was doing for Masspike Miles called “Street Judge.” This was in 2010 and I was surprised because Ross showed up out of nowhere. I didn’t know he was going to make a cameo. I’m just out in the middle of Carol City [in Miami] shooting and I see the Phantom pull up and I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ [laughs]

That had to be nuts, right?
It was shocking. Just for me to know that from where I started in the game one of the biggest artists in the rap industry is coming to my set. And when Ross got there he was very cool and did what I asked him to do. And then he started shooting pointers at me like, “You have to put out a behind-the-scenes first, you have to push it like this…” Once he saw the video when it came out Ross approached me and told me he really loved it. He loved the concept and a lot of shots and told me he was going to make me rich [laughs]. That’s where it all started.

When did you know that your life would never be the same after you joined MMG and Maybach Films?
When I got a phone call from Ross and his manager Gucci Pucci asking me if I had a passport and if I was ready to go to Canada and start shooting for them. My first gig with Ross was the “BMF” video. We started shooting blogs and other music videos. That’s when it really started for me.

When did you know that Rick Ross had become a superstar?
When “BMF” came out. Everybody kinda knew he was the next star. And me being from Miami there are not a lot of acts from Miami on his level. So obviously, my goal as a director was to want to work with him. I started working with artists on his label and eventually I got his attention.

What kind of label boss is Ross? How has he evolved as a label head?
When I started with him, Meek [Mill] and Wale were not even on the label. There was some talk about it. But once everybody started coming on board I just saw Ross put on his boss hat and make sure all the necessary moves got executed. He was the one making sure all MMG artists had the right beats and the right features; that everybody was working is working and promoting their project. It’s incredible how Ross manages to come out with such a classic piece of work like God Forgives, I Don’t and at the same time he’s helping everyone else put out their projects like Wale’s Ambition and Meek Mill’s Dreams & Nightmares. It’s been great to watch.

Tell the truth…Ross has a clone, right?
[Laughs] It’s just crazy. Everything Ross touches turns to gold.

Does Ross have a secret hobby that we don’t know about? Is he a sick gardener; is he a monster at Monopoly?
Ross is unbeatable at Call of Duty! He is serious about that game. He whips everybody…I can’t even play against him anymore [laughs]. He is so disrespectful when he plays. He doesn’t care.

What was it about the art of video direction that inspired you to make it a career?
I was doing graphic design before this and my cousin Jon J, who is actually doing videos with me now and does a lot of stuff for Wale and Meek, he was an aspiring rapper. I had a camera one day and I think I had just started working with an iMac in 2009. It had iMovie and I told Jon, ‘Hey, I can shoot something. I can put something together if I can get through the tutorial.’ And we went out to the streets and we started shooting some scenes, and I spent two days editing this video. And it was the worst video I had ever did [laughs].

But I bet you thought it was the greatest thing ever put to film at that point, right?
Right! We thought it was the shit! I really enjoyed the time I spent outside driving around looking for shooting locations. I enjoyed the editing process. I got hooked after that. I started investing in myself and into cameras and its been on ever since.

Have you sat down recently to watch that video?
Yeah, I have. But it’s hard to find. Whenever I do see it I’m like, ‘Man…’

Some of your recent videos like Meek Mill’s ‘Amen’ and Ross’ ‘Yella Diamonds’ have been very controversial. Did you realize you were going to get push back from those clips?
Around that time we knew “Amen” was controversial. But I don’t think the video was controversial. I felt like the video was fun. There was no religious imagery in that video. We were just thanking God for the good times. And Meek was just thanking God for his success. He’s on tour with Drake and he’s flying in private jets. It’s a dream come true and a blessing. That’s really Meek’s lifestyle and there’s nothing fake about it. I think all the controversy came from that pastor trying to make a name for himself.

Before we get into ‘Yella Diamonds,’ are you shocked at how big Meek Mill has become within the hip-hop landscape?
When I first met Meek, I didn’t know he would become what he is today. I didn’t know of him when I first met him. That’s when he was just signing with Ross. And Ross told me during a video for DJ Khaled’s “In My Hood” to shoot “Ima Boss.” So I ended up shooting the viral version for it, but I didn’t know it was going to become that big. For me to be attached to that was crazy.

What was your reaction when the video for “Yella Diamonds” was banned from television?
I come from a background where I’m just hungry and willing to experiment. I just felt like for that record I had to bring Ross’ lyrics to life. And those lyrics are pretty raw. I wanted to get in there and make some people act. That’s the lane I’m going for. I’m preparing myself to direct a feature film.

What are some of your upcoming videos fans should be looking out for?
We have “911” off of Ross’ new album. We are writing a treatment right now for “Ice Cold” featuring Omarion. And I have a big surprise dropping this week.

Is it a clip for “3 Kings”?
[Laughs]…I’m not saying.

Hip-Hop has always been about characters. And one character that everyone seems to be talking about is Gunplay, who recently talked about his inspiration behind his swastika tattoo. Did you do a spit-take when dude was interviewed about his controversial ink?
All I can say is Gunplay is a unique individual. He’s very talented. The thing about Gunplay is people don’t see that kind of wild character in hip-hop today. People are attracted to that. He has that crazy, I-don’t-give-a-fuck energy.

So no comments on the swastika? You are good.
[Laughs] I’m not going to touch that one. I just feel like Gunplay is an underdog story. People saw him come from the bottom. All of a sudden people see him getting all this attention.

What’s the best part about being a part of the MMG team?
I’m just blessed to be in this game. I feel like I’ve helped to create a powerful movement. I’ve helped with the visuals and made sure we are consistent with the blogs and virals because it’s all about the fans. I’m proud of that. For me, it’s not just about being a director. You have to make sure the visuals are promoted in the correct way. I go extra hard on the promotions and marketing. I’m tweeting all day. I don’t want to put that in somebody else’s hands because it’s my project. I’m just doing what I love.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Scott Olson

Illinois Man Awarded $1.25 Million After Cops Tackled Him For Stealing His Own Car

A former Northwestern University doctoral student was awarded $1.25 million after police tackled the then 25-year old assuming he was trying to steal a car that was actually his own.

The Associated Press reports Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz confirmed the settlement amount had been reached Wednesday. (Jan. 23) Crosby was an engineering major in 2015 when the incident occurred.

Crosby’s attorney Timothy Touhy said his client was attempting to repair something with his car when a white woman watching called local police to report what she thought was a robbery.

The unidentified woman then followed Crosby in his car as he left his apartment and headed to a science building on Northwestern's campus, giving police his location.

Crosby reportedly exited his vehicle with his hands up but was immediately tackled by law enforcement when he didn't obey orders to get on the ground. Cops later determined Crosby was the owner of the vehicle but charged him with resisting arrest.

A spokesman for the Evanston police said the use of force was justified at the time because officers assumed a theft was in progress. Crosby was the victim of knee strikes and open-handed strikes.

A judge threw out the charges.

“It’s his hope that as a result of this case, that all of us begin a discussion on implicit bias and begin to recognize it and begin to discuss it between yourselves and your friends,” said Steven Yonover, who represented Crosby in the case.

Continue Reading

10 Year Old Commits Suicide After Being Bullied For Colostomy Bag

A 10-year-old Kentucky boy committed suicide after being bullied incessantly by classmates, who reportedly picked on for using a colostomy bag.

Seven Bridges' mother found him dead in the closet on Saturday (Jan. 19). Tami Charles was reportedly out grocery shopping, and the boy's father Donnie was at a church choir practice. Charles called Seven, her only child, a miracle baby, as she was told that she wouldn't be able to have children.

"Seven had a tough start. He was born with a condition that required a colostomy bag. Even after several surgeries, he would still have problems with leaks. Charles said it became a reason for kids to make fun of him," reports WHAS11 in Kentucky. According to Charles, her son underwent 26 surgeries from the time he was born.

"WHAS11 talked to Charles and Seven in September after an alleged bullying incident on his bus ride home from Kerrick Elementary School," the site continues. This is unfortunately not the first time bullying has severely affected Seven and his family. "He said he was called the N-word by a student. His friend told him to beat-up that student, and when Seven refused, he said the bus buddy started choking him." This incident was detailed on Tami's Facebook page.

Seven, who was planning on going to another school to start sixth grade, was told by his mother than the bullying would end when he changed schools.

“The balls that were dropped,” Tami said of the flawed system that couldn't protect bullying victims at the school. “It wasn't that [Jefferson County Public Schools] didn't have these tools, they just weren't at our school. It wasn't that they didn't have these tools to help the victims of bullying, they just weren't there, they weren't used."

Due to the manner of the boy's death, insurance will not cover the costs of his funeral. If you'd like to help the family, please click here.

Continue Reading

Michael B. Jordan To Star In 'gen:LOCK' Anime Series

Michael B. Jordan will be lending his lady-loved voice to a new anime series,"gen:LOCK," for Rooster Teeth.

In the new series, Jordan will be playing Julian Chase. The show is described as "50 years in the future, where an oppressive authoritarian force threatens to conquer the world. So a daring team is recruited to pilot a new form of weaponized neuroscience that powers devastating mecha. However, this team must be willing to sacrifice everything to save the world," according to Shadow and Act.

“He is willing to lay his life on the line for the greater good. He had a lot of heroic qualities to him that made it easy for me to be like ‘cool, I want to voice this guy,’” Jordan told SyfyWire about his reason for picking the role.

Way too excited to show you guys the final trailer for #genLock all my real followers/fans know how much I’m an Anime fan and this show fulfilled one of my life-long dreams of voicing a character on an animated show. Jan 26th it’s going to get crazy on @roosterteeth

A post shared by Michael B. Jordan (@michaelbjordan) on Jan 17, 2019 at 9:38am PST

The first two episodes of gen:LOCK will premiere on Jan. 26 on Rooster Teeth, which is available on iOS, Andriod, Xbox One, and Apple TV. (RoosterTeeth.com's memberships start at $4.99 a month.) Watch the trailer for the series up top.

Continue Reading

Top Stories