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Be Specific: Phil Ade video director 6ix Shoota on channeling "Electric Relaxation"

By Sarah Godfrey

As mentioned earlier this week, May has already produced a bounty of amazing DMV hip-hop videos. Among the standouts: the new video for Phil Ade’s “Always There,” from the Maryland rapper/singer's 2009 mixtape, "Starting on JV."

The track, about Ade's quest for love, has a lot in common with A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation." So, when it came time to shoot a video for "Always There," director 6ix Shoota of Cool Kids Forever Films crafted an homage to the "Electric Relaxation" clip. Click Track spoke with 6ix about reinterpreting a classic New York hip-hop video with a D.C. twist.

So, when I first watched this, I thought, “Oh! 'Electric Relaxation!'”

That’s it. That has always been a favorite song of mine, and a favorite video — I’m a big Tribe Called Quest fan. When I heard the song on Phil’s mixtape, about a year ago, I thought it was a great song. I kept telling his manager, “I wanna shoot that for him.” Both Phil and our film company were busy, and in the meantime we shot another video for Phil, for “Hollywood.” Finally, we said, “let’s get it done.” I didn’t want it to be exactly like the “Electric Relaxation” video, or disrespect in any way, but I definitely played around with certain things, certain key points.

(Recreating the details down to the lemon, after the jump)

You have Phil rhyming in the back of a cab, shots of a young woman walking around the city, the big diner scene at the end — all of which are obviously drawn from the “Electric Relaxation” video. Are there any other little touches that you tried to incorporate?

In the “Electric Relaxation” video, Phife had on a college sweatshirt — a Carolina sweatshirt -- so Phil had on a Maryland sweatshirt. And Phife was drinking ice tea with the lemon on the side in that diner scene, so Phil had the same drink to pay homage.

What diner did you shoot in?

The Silver Diner in Greenbelt. We were thinking about Ben's Chili Bowl, but because it’s so busy, that was a concern. We wanted a downtown setting, like the downtown diner in the Tribe video, but we ended up working around it.

Another thing, I wanted the scene where Phil first walks into the diner to be a key shot [as in the Electric Relaxation video]. Phil is a young guy -- I told him, “This is gonna be good for older people who grew up on Tribe, they’ll appreciate it." But we still kept it young and fresh for his audience.

I’m sure people who are older and remember when the video came out pick up on the references, but are you also getting feedback from younger people who just think it’s a hot video?

I’ve gotten responses from young people just saying it’s a dope video, and a few people notice the Tribe influence. I haven’t gone on some of the blogs -- I know a lot of Tribe fans run sites like allhip-hop.com, etc., and will appreciate it. The younger fans just love the feel, which goes to show that good music and good ideas just translate.

The shots of the different women Phil talks to reminded me of another great ‘90s hip-hop video, the Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By.”

Yeah. I remember a lot of old school videos that would just have a rapper and a girl in the shot, not even paying attention to him, just doing her own thing. I thought that was a great style, I wanted to bring that back also. It was kinda Pharcyde-ish, and I also [the video for Common's] “I Used to Love H.E.R.” as inspiration. In old-school videos, you’d have a girl just grooving in her own zone—nowadays it’s “let me rub all up on the rapper.”

Any other influences I’m not catching?

The girls' outfits, I told them, for the treatment, that the look was “A Different World.” But a lot of the models are like, 21, and didn’t know what that meant. So I told them, sweatshirts off the shoulder, a college girl look, casual. A lot of females have been complementary about the models not having the typical look of women in hip-hop videos.

You incorporated a lot of D.C. scenes, just as "Electric Relaxation" uses New York scenes, but seemed to stay away from typical, tourist-y D.C. landmarks

I wanted to keep the look true to the Tribe video, but a lot of our monuments are surrounded by grass, or large open areas, and I wanted a city feel. So I did Georgetown, downtown, stuff like that.

You also packed in a lot of cameos for the big diner scene at the end: Tabi Bonney, Raheem DeVaughn...

We definitely wanted cameos -- we have Tabi [also part of Cool Kids Forever Films], and Phil is Raheem's artist [through DeVaughn's 368 Music Group] so we definitely wanted his cameo. We wanted to make it fun.

One of problems we kept having, though, is, in the “Electric Relaxation” video, everybody is rocking in the diner, but we had people halfway doing it. I said, “In order for it to really come across, you have to really rock." Tabi is in videos, he shoots videos, so he knew he had to get into it. His table ended up being the best table. I wanted to put a lot more people in, but they were only halfway doing it, so I had to cut them. I didn’t want to, but it wasn’t coming across.

By Sarah Godfrey  |  May 7, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags: 6ix Shoota, Phil Ade, Raheem DeVaughn, Tabi Bonney  
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