There’s a paradox at the core of most contemporary rap videos. Your primary objective is to depict the superficial vainglory of the high life — with the rappers having AS MUCH FUN AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE — while trying to mask the stupefyingly pedestrian affair that is your average rap video shoot.
Accordingly, credit is due to the ringleaders behind Mack 10’s “So Sharp,” who sought to enliven the proceedings by shooting at the beach in Malibu this week, complete with Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, their respective blunt-holders, Buck Rogers squirt guns and motorized Good Humor trucks. There were also 25 bikini-clad beach bunnies playing jai alai, badminton and Nerf football between takes. At times, it was hard to tell whether the proceedings were intended to depict Mack 10’s paean to having “the hottest cars, the flyest clothes and the baddest ho’s” or an upcoming Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign.
UPDATE: The original version of this post named Mack 10's song as "So Dirty." The correct title of the song is "So Sharp." Thanks to reader the Poetess for the catch.
Wearing a shirt the color of orange sherbet, Mack 10 worked the set like a veteran congressman, shaking hands, accepting compliments and conducting interviews. He hid any jaded weariness well — even though he’s probably filmed two dozen videos in his 15-year career (in particular, I recommend “Foe Life
,” “On Them Thangs” and “Backyard Boogie
Such is the reputation of this third of Westside Connection that he can wrangle two of rap’s bestselling acts out to the beach on a June gloom Monday. Yet the ursine Ross, dressed in an all-white track suit, four gaudy gold Crucifxes around his neck, dutifully fulfilled the request, letting loose a slow strut across the sand toward a lifeguard tower, where he repeatedly lip-synced his verse for the cameras, taking great grandfatherly hits off his cigar and ceaselessly dead-panning.
The tenor shifted dramatically when Mack 10’s one-time label mate, Lil Wayne, exited a black Suburban, his hair a tangle of dreadlocks, red pants sagging severely, two girls and a male friend in tow. Taking sharp, darting steps toward the cameras, a look of fraternal obligation across his face, Wayne was greeted by the adoring glances of the video girls.
For the duration of the half-hour Wayne spent on-camera (alternately smoking a blunt, eating a fruit platter and lip-syncing his verses), he was treated with deistic reverence — every joke a knee-buckler, every utterance a proverb — or so one would judge from the rapturous looks on his co-stars’ face.
Even the waning sun darted out from behind the white denim-colored clouds to give the director perfect light to shoot the climax — Mack 10, Ross and Wayne surrounded by the bevy of bathing beauties. The song blared loudly, the Pacific Ocean undulated in the background, and for a moment or two, everyone actually looked like they were having a lot fun. The Beach Boys would’ve been proud.
5 Questions for Mack 10
Did you come up with the idea for the video yourself?
Yeah, you know. Everyone know the type of dude I am. This is a fun song, and I just wanted to have fun in Malibu, and just wild out.
Tell me about your new album. Any guest appearances, producers you’re working with?
We’ve got Birdman, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Akon, J Holiday, Anthony Hamilton, Jim Jones, Fat Joe. I just wanted to have fun; I had a lot of fun making the album. That’s why I named it “Soft White.” It’s just 1-0 being 1-0.
How’s this album different from past efforts?
This is really just me. Westside Connection was a group; that was the direction we went in because that’s the way business is done, even though it was real and authentic. But when you’re by yourself, you just do you.
So how do you guys go about selecting the video dancers? What’s the criteria?
They know what I like.
Dimes. That’s why I’m Mack 1-0.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo of Ross, Lil Wayne and Mack 10 by Jeff Cowan