From a graffiti artist in Queens to a well-accomplished filmmaker, Hype Williams is an icon in the Hip Hop scene. The legendary director has undoubtedly been one of the most sought-after creative geniuses in the music industry for decades. Born Harold Williams, he rose to acclaim thanks to his ingenuity, as well as his impressive storytelling shorts. A classic example of his creativity and uniqueness is the music video for Busta Rhymes' "Woo Hah." Williams masterfully showcased his genius, giving birth to the cartoonishly magnified viewpoint of the rap songs from that era.
His work is known for its innovative visuals, high-energy editing, and star power. Williams' clientele also cuts across some of the biggest names in Hip Hop and R&B, including The Notorious B.I.G., TLC, Missy Elliott, and Beyoncé. Overall, his work has had a lasting impact on the music video industry, and his videos continue to be enjoyed by many. Specifically, it is his artistic mind that earned him a 2017 recognition at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors, as well as BET's Best Director Award. Here are seven of Hype Williams' best music videos:
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7. The Notorious B.I.G. - "Big Poppa" (1994)
"Big Poppa" is one of the most iconic Hip Hop singles of all time. The song firmly helped establish Biggie's reign as a singular influence in hip-hop. Moreover, the video is focused primarily on the Notorious B.I.G., the party, and the crowd to highlight what it means to be Big Poppa. The legend is seen in a variety of lush settings, from a private lounge to a mansion. Williams' use of slow-motion and close-ups helps to create a sense of wealth, status, and power. The video also features cameo appearances from Sean Combs, Busta Rhymes, and Mary J Blige. Indeed, on paper, it's a regular video about living the fast life. However, Williams' direction tells a succinct story about who would later become one of the greatest MCs of all time.
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6. Beyonce - "Drunk in Love" (2013)
Hype Williams has said that Beyoncé is his favorite artist to make videos for. The Grammy-winning "Drunk in Love" is a testament to their respective collaborative genius. The video uses a single location shot on the beach in Miami, as the two bounce off each other's energies. In this simplistic, yet groundbreaking video, Hype Williams utilized close-up shots to evoke a sense of sensuality and desire. Beyoncé herself has also shared that the music video is one of her most personal, as it was her at her freest, at the time. In a chat with Out Magazine, she revealed that she didn't want to overthink the video, and "really just tried to trust our instincts, embrace the moment, and keep it fun." This evidently proved successful, as the music video is one of the most-watched in Williams' catalog, with over 700 million YouTube views.
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5. Kanye West - "Stronger"(2007)
Earning a diamond plaque in 2021, "Stronger" is a powerful and moving video that tells the story of Kanye West's recovery in a technological medical facility. The video features West located in Japan, including in a hospital bed and a facility basement. In this iconic video, Hype Williams opted for symbolism and fade-out sequences. Consequently, this helped create a sense of emotional flashbacks and vulnerability.
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4. TLC - "No Scrubs" (1999)
"No Scrubs" is a classic women's empowerment anthem that still resonates today with its fun and catchy hook. The music video features TLC rejecting men who don't meet their standards. To create this gem, Hype Williams used grayscale colors in order to make the singers pop. This helped create a captivating and empowering atmosphere where the singer looked and felt in control. The video also features a dance routine that is still imitated today, which is a testament to its legacy.
3. Kanye West - "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" (2005)
The music video for "Can't Tell Me Nothing" is an emotional and eye-opening one. It features Kanye West rapping about the strife of the oppressed and various institutions of the oppressor. The video covers the architectural layout of Prague, the oppressor, and their fondness for diamonds, as well as children in the background with bloody dark pupils. Williams uses black & white editing to emphasize certain emotions across the video and also to depict the race lens at the time.
This West Coast anthem features 2Pac and Dr. Dre rapping about the beauty and danger of California. In the timeless video, the pair are seen saving women from the villains. The video immaculately embodies the set and styling of the 1985 Mad Max movie. Hype Williams also uses his storytelling expertise to expand on the partying and club lifestyle in the City of Angels. Furthermore, the use of both wide and aerial shots helps capture the "Wild West" theme. It is undeniably one of Williams' most memorable videos in existence.
1. Missy Elliott - "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" (1997)
Missy Elliot has been at the forefront of innovative music videos since her debut. Notably, "The Rain" was a groundbreaking track from Missy's 1997 album, Supa Dupa Fly. Consequently, the music video could also be argued to have helped launch her career as a visual artist. It was also Missy Elliott's first project with Hype Williams. The video showed Missy rapping and dancing in a variety of futuristic and surreal settings. Most notably, the inflated black leather suit she dons remains a piece of pop culture over the decades. Elliott has since revealed the hilarious tidbit about the iconic suit. Williams' use of special effects and innovative camera angles helped to create a visually stunning music video way ahead of its time.
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