When Rihanna Instagrammed a picture of her and Drake glued to each other like an intimate couple exploring the wonders of ecstasy, the overall consensus was that their forthcoming “Work” video would be love in the club. When the video finally arrived it was - the club is a Caribbean restaurant and the visual does an excellent job capturing an authentic look at Caribbean dance culture. That wasn’t always the case.
The first half of the video is directed by Director X, the party atmosphere and the second, more private version is directed by Tim Erem. No changes or extensions are done to the song, it’s literally heads and tails of the same coin. The FADER spoke with both directors about their visions, Tim disclosed that the video that was released was completely different than the original treatment. Multiple videos being shot for the same song isn’t abnormal, there was a time where UK artists would shoot two videos, one specifically for the American audience. Same with rappers and MTV, there would be uncut and clean versions. I think what’s interesting about Rihanna’s approach is taking two different ideas from two different directors and using them both instead of splitting the visuals.
Director X told FADER that he liked the decision to join the videos, that it gives the people something to debate. He’s right, I noticed recently with the discovery of ScHoolboy Q’s unreleased “Collard Greens” music video. A Reddit user created a thread for the “alternative” version that he found online, directed by the very talented Jason Goldwatch. It’s the total opposite of JeromeD’s psychedelic heavy, party filled version that was picked as the final. Even though I love the underwater shots, blow up dolls and how the video turns out to be a dream, there’s an apparent lack of energy. The party atmosphere captures the spirit of the song.
Q admitted in an interview that he didn’t like the first video shot for “Collard Greens” but I noticed a lot of Reddit users enjoyed Jason’s vision. A vision we weren’t supposed to see. Q seemed pretty upset that the video has been publicized but as Jason pointed out, it’s since been uploaded to the T.D.E YouTube page. There is no telling what the story is behind its release, but at least now we can watch and debate which is the better video.
In the same Reddit thread, another user posted a link to an alternative version of Kid Cudi’s "Pursuit of Happiness." The only version I’ve known was the one with a beardless Drake, time stopping, and champagne spraying. It’s the version that was released, played, and promoted on all the major networks but it wasn’t the only one. French collective Megaforce-directed the original video and surprisingly their version seems to personify the song’s themes. It’s conceptually driven, for an artist that came into the game from left field, the video would’ve made a statement about Cudi’s vision.
Cudi wasn’t happy with it and went to Josh Hartnett. Luckily, Megaforce decided to share their concept with the world and those that have watched both seem to prefer the experimental fantasy over another cliche party with expensive drinks, fake models, and former Teen Nick stars. I recommend reading the incredible video breakdown by SDR94.
Kanye shot three different videos for "Jesus Walks," which is insane since the videos aren’t meant to create a connecting narrative. He just wasn’t satisfied and kept trying. All the visuals have been unearthed but only the second version made it to his YouTube channel. The imagery is the most extreme, having the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in your music video is guaranteed to stir some attention. The original first video of Kanye in the church as a preacher is viewable on Daily Motion but the final one he shot was a bit harder to trace down. There is a “making of” behind-the-scenes clip on YouTube. Years after College Dropout Kanye liberated the video for “Spaceships,” he originally wasn’t happy with it but in typical Kanye fashion changed his mind and decided to share. Maybe he changed his mind back because it’s difficult to find a working link online?
Ian Jasper has been Kanye's barber for the last 20 years and today he unearthed footage from the "Other" Slow Jamz music video. The alternative version was shot in Chicago. Who knew there was more than one!? The clips are uploaded to his Instagram, the quality isn't better than the Frank Ocean snippet but it's good enough to watch and imagine how the full thing would play out. Even barbers can break the internet in 2016, what a time to be alive.
There’s more where that came from, in 2014 a 13-second clip from the unreleased "Robocop" video was released by Shihan Barbee who worked on the video’s CG. The clip is stop motion with Kanye and Amber Rose as a doll. I imagine he was going for what Tyler would go on to do with “IFHY.” A Kanye video directed by Tyler, now that could be something special.
Prince isn’t the only artist with a vault of unreleased music and videos that may or may not see the light of day. Just a few months ago Marty Thomas released the director's cut version of Eazy E’s “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s” video. Originally, the video was supposed to be re-released as a more gangster version since they had to have one suitable for MTV. It was never completed, Eazy passed away, and the extra footage collected dust. The popularity of Straight Outta Compton inspired Marty to complete and release the revamped edition.
An alternate version of TLC’s “Creep” also found its way online long after the group’s heyday. Another instance when you have two completely different visions for the same song. There’s actually one more version that was shot but has continued to stay unreleased. Wu-Tang’s “Y'all Been Warned” stayed in Pandora’s box for 13 years before it popped up on the net.
One of the perks that the internet awards us is a place to view these hidden gems when they escape from their prisons. Since ScHoolboy Q sprung a leak with the original “Collard Greens” there’s hope that Kendrick’s “Recipe” might slither its way onto our screens one day. Who wouldn’t want to see a video inspired by 2Pac’s “California Love” on a song that features Dr. Dre?
If the past few months have taught us anything, Kendrick has no problem keeping the jewels and gems locked away. But even kings will misplace a jewel or two, and we'll be there to snatch them up when they hit the floor.
By Yoh, aka Director Y, aka @Yoh31.
Photo Credit: YouTube