Diddy; John Mayer; Chris Rock; LL Cool J; Rihanna; Sean Paul; Snoop Dogg; Kanye West; Christina Aguilera; The Roots. And, thatâ€™s barely cracking the ice on Little Xâ€™s list of references. His resume is tight, to say the least. But for director Little X â€“ a visionary whoâ€™s never had a problem exercising his visual bravado â€“ itâ€™s not about the fame; maybe, the money and women, but not the fame. For X, itâ€™s what continues to drive him: â€œvisual expression.â€ Heâ€™s brought some of the most beloved summer anthems and fall favorites to life. From the classic M.O.P. â€œAnte Upâ€ video to Jay-Zâ€™s â€œExcuse Me Missâ€ and, most recently, Usher and R.Kellyâ€™s â€œSame Girlâ€ opus. From colors, to framing, to shots and concepts X has made his mark in, and on, the game. Thereâ€™s no denying that. Yet, for a man who’s passionate about his art, it doesnâ€™t end with the camera.
X, who was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, has always found other outlets to express his passion. As of late X has been on his grind, working with Paramount Vantage Films on a soon to be released film called How She Move. X will also be appearing in the fall advertising campaign for Akademiks (Tyson Beckford better watch his back). Also, he has a new clothing line, The X Collection, which is sure to have clothing fiends flooding the stores. And if thatâ€™s not enough he and his long-time friend, and mentor, Hype Williams are in a bitter duel to the end for music video supremacy. Even so, for this modern-day renaissance man itâ€™s all in a dayâ€™s work.
â€œFirstly, Hype and I are in a bitter, bitter, bitter duel to the death. Kind of like an old kung-fu movie. I see him I have to kill him; [he sees me] he has to kill meâ€¦”
Format: Your name is synonymous with hip-hop music and youâ€™ve created, and continue to create, some of the classic imagery we see in music videos. Explain what itâ€™s like being a director and having such an immense amount of influence on hip-hop culture?
Little X: Iâ€™m drunk with power! You know, in the morning you do what you know and love. Itâ€™s good to see that you have some kind of influence.
Format: Do you believe your music videos create the standard for many of the trends we see in hip-hop and society?
Little X: No, not completely. Iâ€™ve done work thatâ€™s definitely had an impact on hip-hop, you know. Iâ€™ve shot stuff thatâ€™s really had an effect. You see some of the things Iâ€™ve done in other videos, you know, kind of like a rapperâ€™s style. I wouldnâ€™t say Iâ€™m the influence or something like that, but Iâ€™ve made a mark in the game myself.
Format: Hip-hop has always rubbed some people the wrong way and has recently been under the microscope, especially in the wake of the Don Imus controversy. Do you believe your music videos add to the negative media attention hip-hop receives?
Little X: My music videos do stuff that add to it, but music videos in general. People just group us all as one. They donâ€™t really say this guy does this kind of video and that guy does that kind of video, they just say videos in general. So when they talk about that stuff, they talk about all of us. Music videos are more becoming an extension of music and music has really become gross, funny, you know, violence not really, at least you see a little more fun now with all the new stuff thatâ€™s coming out. Itâ€™s all young kids dancing around; itâ€™s kind of taking a step away from the madness â€“ money, money, girls, girls, girls â€“ that we used to get so much of.
Format: Youâ€™ve worked with Kanye West, Alicia Keys, The Roots, Nelly Furtado, and Jay-Z, among other giants in the game, whoâ€™s currently in rotation on your iPod?
Little X: Nelly. Not Nelly Furtado, Nelly the rapper. Thatâ€™s the record that Iâ€™m listening to right now.
Format: Is there any particular reason?
Little X: Yeah, I got work to do.
Format: Is there any artist you havenâ€™t worked with yet that you would love to?
Little X: I would say Lauryn Hill. Lauryn is interesting.
Format: What is the most rewarding part about being a director?
Little X: The most rewarding part about being a director â€“ money and women. Iâ€™m joking, Iâ€™m joking. As an artist, itâ€™s great to be able to make your work and put it on the screen and have people see it. Actually, thatâ€™s really whatâ€™s great, bringing the beauty of things to life.
Format: How would you describe your style as a director compared to other music video directors that you see in the game currently?
Little X: I donâ€™t know about comparing it to other guys, but Iâ€™m very, very visual. Iâ€™ve been doing that for a long time. Iâ€™m very graphic. With colors and framing, Iâ€™m a graphic kind of guy. I think that comes through. Especially, when you do performance video stuff, itâ€™s really meant to be very visual. And, Iâ€™m a good storyteller. Like the â€œSame Girlâ€ video we just did for R.Kelly and Usher, we tell their stories well.
Format: As a director do you have more say in the music videos or does the artist have more say? Do you sometimes try to sway the artist when it comes to explaining that you more so want to tell a story than just see fat asses in the video?
Little X: When it comes to this stuff for directors, it is collaboration with the artists. Some artists are very involved, some are not. And the end of the day, itâ€™s the directorâ€™s job to get this video done and make sure the videoâ€™s hot. So if he or she doesnâ€™t really step up to the plate, then the director has to hold that weight and do it. Most clients say this is the idea, and you have to write down what youâ€™re going to do and they make the decision. Once they decide who they want and what idea they want, then itâ€™s your job to make that idea come to life for them.
Format: Have you ever, or do you remember a time you, compromised your morals and said â€œletâ€™s just do itâ€ and gave into what the artist wanted to do?
Little X: Iâ€™ve compromised on things, yeah. There are sometimes where youâ€™re not happy with the result. Iâ€™m not saying compromise like â€˜yeah put her in the thong,â€™ Iâ€™m talking about just on other things â€“ shots and concepts.
â€œFat asses, that I really help bring fat asses to popular culture.â€
Format: In your biography it says that you were â€œheavily influenced by art and a continual search for knowledgeâ€ growing up in Toronto. Can you elaborate on that?
Little X: Iâ€™m an artist. The ancient samurai had to practice sword fighting and get into deep thought so itâ€™s kind of like that, so every man has that, everybody has those two parts of it. I read proverb stories and Iâ€™m a junkie for art; I love it. Visual photography, drawing, good comic books â€“ just visual expression, thatâ€™s what drives me, thatâ€™s what interest me.
Format: Youâ€™ve studied under Hype Williams, to many, the visual pioneer for hip-hop. What is your relationship with Hype and how has he influenced your career?
Little X: Firstly, Hype and I are in a bitter, bitter, bitter duel to the death. Kind of like an old kung-fu movie. I see him I have to kill him; [he sees me] he has to kill me, that kind of thing. Itâ€™s real complex. If Iâ€™m inside of church it doesnâ€™t count, if heâ€™s inside of church it doesnâ€™t count. If I can cut off his head I become the immortal one. So thatâ€™s whatâ€™s going on with me and Hype, weâ€™re the last ones of the immortals.
Format: What do you want you contribution to be, or specifically â€“ what do you want people to remember you by, when you finally say â€˜thatâ€™s a wrapâ€™ for the last time?
Little X: Fat asses, that I really help bring fat asses to popular culture. When they deliver my eulogy, â€˜this is the guy that really had those big fatties in the video.â€™ Art, I think itâ€™s art, dude. You know what I mean? I feel like a lot of the work I did, also coming from the Hype lineage and that kind of crew, we really brought an artistic sense to hip-hop. Hopefully, people see it, and keep it moving, and keep it coming.
Format: You have a new clothing line called The X Collection. Why a clothing line? Do you feel youâ€™ve conquered the music video game and done all you can do as a director?
Little X: No, no, no. The X Collection line is a special edition line for this company called Ice Gear, in Canada. They have an athletic line and they came to me and said â€˜letâ€™s do something together,â€™ and that became The X Collection; my design on their product. Itâ€™s about being creative every chance you get with all the different outlets. We came up with some real cool stuff. Itâ€™s really based on tattoos, stuff thatâ€™s really close to the skin.
Format: What projects are you currently working on â€“ anything exciting or new?
Little X: I just did a re-shoot for Paramount Vantage Films, they purchased a movie called How She Move, itâ€™s an independent film. I didnâ€™t direct the film, but they redid the final dance number and I came in and helped them re-shoot that final dance number. That was pretty cool; it was a good experience.
Format: Whatâ€™s next for X?
Little X: My rapping career is really taking off, you know what I mean! I do what I do. I just did a photo shoot for Akademiks. Iâ€™m going to be in their fall ad campaign. This modeling thing, Iâ€™m trying to get my Tyson Beckford on, you know what I mean? Iâ€™m enjoying myself when opportunities come to be creative; just have some fun and go and do it.
More Info: http://www.littlexonline.com/