Little X

Little X

Diddy; John Mayer; Chris Rock; LL Cool J; Rihanna; Sean Paul; Snoop Dogg; Kanye West; Christina Aguilera; The Roots. And, that’s barely cracking the ice on Little X’s list of references. His resume is tight, to say the least. But for director Little X – a visionary who’s never had a problem exercising his visual bravado – it’s not about the fame; maybe, the money and women, but not the fame. For X, it’s what continues to drive him: “visual expression.” He’s brought some of the most beloved summer anthems and fall favorites to life. From the classic M.O.P. “Ante Up” video to Jay-Z’s “Excuse Me Miss” and, most recently, Usher and R.Kelly’s “Same Girl” opus. From colors, to framing, to shots and concepts X has made his mark in, and on, the game. There’s no denying that. Yet, for a man who’s passionate about his art, it doesn’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 that’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 it’s all in a day’s work.

“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…”

Format: Your name is synonymous with hip-hop music and you’ve created, and continue to create, some of the classic imagery we see in music videos. Explain what it’s like being a director and having such an immense amount of influence on hip-hop culture?
Little X: I’m drunk with power! You know, in the morning you do what you know and love. It’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. I’ve done work that’s definitely had an impact on hip-hop, you know. I’ve shot stuff that’s really had an effect. You see some of the things I’ve done in other videos, you know, kind of like a rapper’s style. I wouldn’t say I’m the influence or something like that, but I’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 don’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 that’s coming out. It’s all young kids dancing around; it’s kind of taking a step away from the madness – money, money, girls, girls, girls – that we used to get so much of.

Little X

Format: You’ve worked with Kanye West, Alicia Keys, The Roots, Nelly Furtado, and Jay-Z, among other giants in the game, who’s currently in rotation on your iPod?
Little X: Nelly. Not Nelly Furtado, Nelly the rapper. That’s the record that I’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 haven’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 – money and women. I’m joking, I’m joking. As an artist, it’s great to be able to make your work and put it on the screen and have people see it. Actually, that’s really what’s great, bringing the beauty of things to life.

Little X

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 don’t know about comparing it to other guys, but I’m very, very visual. I’ve been doing that for a long time. I’m very graphic. With colors and framing, I’m a graphic kind of guy. I think that comes through. Especially, when you do performance video stuff, it’s really meant to be very visual. And, I’m a good storyteller. Like the “Same Girl” 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, it’s the director’s job to get this video done and make sure the video’s hot. So if he or she doesn’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 you’re going to do and they make the decision. Once they decide who they want and what idea they want, then it’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 “let’s just do it” and gave into what the artist wanted to do?
Little X: I’ve compromised on things, yeah. There are sometimes where you’re not happy with the result. I’m not saying compromise like ‘yeah put her in the thong,’ I’m talking about just on other things – shots and concepts.

“Fat asses, that I really help bring fat asses to popular culture.”

Format: In your biography it says that you were “heavily influenced by art and a continual search for knowledge” growing up in Toronto. Can you elaborate on that?
Little X: I’m an artist. The ancient samurai had to practice sword fighting and get into deep thought so it’s kind of like that, so every man has that, everybody has those two parts of it. I read proverb stories and I’m a junkie for art; I love it. Visual photography, drawing, good comic books – just visual expression, that’s what drives me, that’s what interest me.

Format: You’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. It’s real complex. If I’m inside of church it doesn’t count, if he’s inside of church it doesn’t count. If I can cut off his head I become the immortal one. So that’s what’s going on with me and Hype, we’re the last ones of the immortals.

Little X

Format: What do you want you contribution to be, or specifically – what do you want people to remember you by, when you finally say ‘that’s a wrap’ for the last time?
Little X: Fat asses, that I really help bring fat asses to popular culture. When they deliver my eulogy, ‘this is the guy that really had those big fatties in the video.’ Art, I think it’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 you’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 ‘let’s do something together,’ and that became The X Collection; my design on their product. It’s about being creative every chance you get with all the different outlets. We came up with some real cool stuff. It’s really based on tattoos, stuff that’s really close to the skin.

Format: What projects are you currently working on – anything exciting or new?
Little X: I just did a re-shoot for Paramount Vantage Films, they purchased a movie called How She Move, it’s an independent film. I didn’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: What’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. I’m going to be in their fall ad campaign. This modeling thing, I’m trying to get my Tyson Beckford on, you know what I mean? I’m enjoying myself when opportunities come to be creative; just have some fun and go and do it.

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Little X

Jason Parham

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  1. I’m a lover of videos.student filmmaker. videographer
    I definitely agree on the topic of art and videos. u all definitely brought that aspect but how do u all think the future of videos is looking. especially in the advent of more female directors changin up the look topic, etc?

  2. i,m a lover of your work, and in trinidad when i met you i did not know that the majority of the videos i have known for the longest,it was your stuff nuff respect,and keep doing great stuff. god’s richest blessings to you always.

  3. You WILL be my mentor in the years to come.

    Like yourself, God blessed me with the same gift.

    Manifesting my destiny everyday, You’re my inspiration.

    Go Clarkson!


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