Here at egotripland we love to laugh. A party ain’t a party without parody. And if you’re talking music video parodies within the rap realm there’s perhaps none better than Redman’s 1998 classic “I’ll Bee Dat” – a satirical romp across the TV dial that memorably lampoons everything from exercise workouts to cereal commercials to music videos themselves. The man behind this classic clip, Mr. Julien Lutz – better known by his filmmaking aliases, Little X, Lil’ X, and Director X – was just a young director on the come up when he and Reggie Noble put their humor-filled heads together. X’s resume has since, of course, blown up bigger than Kim Kardashian’s backside, having lent his video directing skills to the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, R. Kelly amongst many others, and commercial directing talents to spots for Converse, Bacardi, Smirnoff, Reebok, Chrysler, and more. (He was also cool enough to make a special guest appearance a few years back on a show called ego trip’s The (White) Rapper Show, but that’s another story…) We caught up with X to ask him his recollections of teaming with the Funk Doc, coming up under Hype Williams, and making one of the our favorite music videos.
How did the concept for the video come about?
Director X: It was my concept. I’d walk around in the Village and Tribeca where the [Def Jam] office was coming up with ideas, with my Walkman on and that concept came to me. But Red – he was already on that page. Reggie was already there. I guess the album was kind of like the video. It went from different “shows” and shit. We were just on the same wavelength with that one.
I feel like this video does a great job parodying TV but it also really captures the essence of what it is to be high and watching TV. Given that Reggie is known for his love for smoking weed, was that a part of the original concept as well?
Director X: I never got that deep on it. It’s just one of those things where afterwards you can see it. Really, it’s just the idea of flipping through channels and each channel being him. And like you said, making fun of all the dumb shit we’d see on TV at that time. Like those long distance commercials and all that craziness.
Tell me a little bit about the girl on the bike.
Director X: Red brought up the whole Wayne’s World thing. We just did it – [an homage to] Wayne’s World. We’re lucky we found a really pretty girl who also was athletic enough to do stunts. I think she was doing stunts or trying to do stunts [professionally]. I can’t remember how we found this girl. But that’s her doing the stunts. The same girl you see waving is the same girl who you see doing the crash.
So she was prepared, there were no broken bones involved in this episode?
Director X: No broken bones, but it was incredibly unsafe. [laughs] We just kinda did it, you know what I mean? She’s hardcore, that girl.
Where was that shot?
Director X: That was Queensbridge. One of the studios [we used to shoot at] is across the street: Broadway [Studios]. It’s gone now but a lot of classic hip-hop videos went down on that stage. Truthfully, I can’t remember exactly how we ended up in muthafuckin’ Queensbridge. 'Cause we shot that other stuff on another stage. But Cormega [who is in the scene] just showed up. He was just there. It’s his neighborhood.
What do you recall about the scene with the elderly couple in the back of the cab that Redman is driving around?
Director X: I recall laughing a lot. And I remember that being another really unsafe scenario. [laughs] Every bit of equipment is strapped to the taxi cab – the camera, the lights, I’m actually ducked down in the passenger seat with the playback and the mechanism to start the camera. So it’s a full on rolling film set, but completely fucking [unsafe]. It’s legal. Barely. But if you can imagine in the middle of the night in Queens seeing fuckin’ Redman drive by in a taxi cab with a giant 35 mm camera and a big light strapped to the hood of a car and two old people in the back screaming. [laughs]
So Red is actually driving the car – it wasn’t rigged with a camera car towing it?
Director X: He was driving that car. We did [the video in] three days for two-day money. It was just a different day and age with a different kind of company. People are calling me like, "Yo, how the hell are you doing three days?" I’m like, "Man, don’t worry about what I’m doing, worry about yourself. I’m on day three." On day three you don’t get to have the fancy truck that tows and all that. You have to do it guerilla style.
The part where Redman and the kids go crazy with the cereal is probably the best known scene of all.
Director X: The funny part is that’s my aunt and uncle’s place. That block, that kitchen, that’s [where] my aunt and uncle [live]. I used to live upstairs. [Later] they told me they renovated their kitchen and they were still finding Cheerios years, years, years later. The scene where the guy walks through the house, where Red’s watching TV – we shot some stuff at my cousin’s place [next door], some stuff at my aunt’s house. The telephone commercial – all that was shot in one of those two houses. The running down the block, stealing the car is the house across the street. That was all in Brooklyn.
How did your family react to the shoot?
Director X: This was the first big video [my aunt and uncle] saw me do. This was the justification for [my career in their eyes]: you haven’t wasted your life – the big trucks and the camera and the crew and all that. For all of us that don’t do the usual job I think there’s a moment when your parents get it and leave you alone, as well as your family. My parents had an earlier moment, but for my aunt and uncle that was their moment to be like, oh, okay.
[In general the shoot] was a real family affair. I think one of the little girls was Hype Williams’ niece. Tinisha Scott, she didn’t choreograph this [video], but she’s just in there. Benny Boom is in there. Benny Boom was the AD [on this shoot] but he’s also one of the dudes cursing at Redman during the horrible tasting Coke scene. [laughs]
You guys did shoot quite a bit of stuff, though. Any production nightmare stories?
Director X: I don’t remember anything crazy as far as production shit. Nothing that threw anything really off-base. I remember I wanted to do a hair commercial. Remember those Vidal Sassoon commercials? I wanted Redman to do a Vidal Sassoon [commercial] but all the girls’ hair was completely fucked up. But for some reason we never shot that. I think Red didn’t want to do it or something happened. With the [production] tribulations it’s like a life story, dude. When you look back on your life that time that you broke your leg, or the time that the girl broke your heart, or the time that you didn’t get the job – a lot of times [those things] work out all right. You can see why you needed that to happen to get to be able to get to where you got. It’s not always gonna be roses and sunshine and flower petals that are gonna get you to your destination. Sometimes you gotta walk through the dark part of the forest. That’s film production, man. Shit blows up, things get missing.
Looking back, what stands out about this particular experience?
Director X: This was just a different era of Def Jam. This was when Def Jam was at 160 Varick [Street], if you remember those days. You see it just had a different energy. Def Jam was all on one floor, all in one building. It just felt much more family. There’s definitely the Def Jam energy there. There’s no label that has its own office anymore. They’ve all got the big major label, multiple floors, cubicles forever, that whole [new] record label set up. And it just lacks a little bit of the energy back in the day when Bad Boy had its own office and Roc-A-Fella had its own office, and Def Jam had its own office. Everybody was able to have their own vibe, their own energy. And you could see it in the music. Those little boutique labels meant a lot more in those days.
[Redman’s video] was low budget for those days. These days it’d be a big budget video. The dollar was worth more back then. Rihanna gets that kind of money now. It was definitely a different day and age. Me, I think I was 23 years old when I did that. So that’s the video that made the difference for me. That was the one that made people say, oh, okay.
Which responses do you especially remember?
Director X: Everybody loved it. But the one I remember the most was being at a club with Hype – and this is my big mentor. He had just done Busta [Rhymes]’s video for “Gimme Some More” and we’re both standing in the club and some dude walks up to us and he says to one of us first, “Hey, good video!” And then he turns to the other one, “Hey, good video!” And I remember that being a moment around that whole thing. It was definitely a graduation into the big leagues, that video right there.
Hype must have been pretty proud to see that.
Director X: Yeah, definitely, it’s good to see your little man like rise up and go on.
What do you think were the most valuable things you learned from him?
Director X: Hype let me be around when I was an intern. That was the main thing. He let me be around and just observe. It wasn’t a mentorship like he was teaching me like, this is how you use the camera. It wasn’t one of those. But just to watch him. And really the big thing was his technical knowledge. He really understood filmmaking, which was important for me to see. He knew about film and lights and lenses and camera and make up and hair and wardrobe, he knew the departments. He was a real filmmaker. He is a real filmmaker. He really just sees the whole picture. So for me growing up around that in the film game that made me go out and study all the technical aspects of all the different parts of the game. I began to understand, okay if I’m a do this I’ve got to know all these departments. I’ve got to be a real filmmaker.