“Before I got on the set, I knew that this was going to go viral,” he tells Rap-Up. “When we were coming up with the concept, Drake was like, ‘I’m about to come through with the Jheri curl.’ I was like, ‘Oh shit! This is about to go crazy on the internet.'”
He was right, of course, and the video has already surpassed 28 million views, but its original concept was different. First, Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff wanted a ’70s-theme inspired by “The Get Down.” Quality Control’s Kevin “Coach K” Lee “reeled it in” and suggested the “Soul Train” concept, according to Daps. “That came back to my desk, and I had to put it together into a palatable format,” he explains. However, he only had three days to do it.
“Before I got on the set, I knew that this was going to go viral.”
The Nigerian-born, London-raised director quickly went into planning mode. He studied “Soul Train” set designs, performances, and lighting schemes. He also decided to capture an authentic old-school vibe with Betamax tapes. “It was important to try to emulate what they shot in back in the day,” he says. “But none of us had ever worked on Beta tapes, so that was a whole learning curve for us.”
Quavo, the video’s co-director, was also part of the planning phase. “When we come together, it’s like Shaq and Kobe in ’01,” says Daps. “We’re texting, giving each other ideas, reference videos, and we dissect different things we want to see.”
Gucci may have inspired the wardrobe and Jackson 5 the performance shots, but “Bad” added a different element. “Halfway through [the ‘Bad’] video, a guy is rollerskating and moonwalking in place,” says Daps. “As a kid, I was like, ‘How does he do that?’ I thought it was magic. I thought it was a witch!”
So, Daps decided to include roller skaters in “Walk It Talk It” at the last minute. Coach K also made a different last-minute move. At midnight on shoot day, he tapped Jamie Foxx to play Ron Delirious as a tip-of-the-hat to the late “Soul Train” icon, Don Cornelius. “Jamie Foxx brought in a comedic effect,” he says.
Laughter also erupted on the day of the shoot. After all, Migos and Drake were in character as “Soul Train” stars, donning elaborate ’70s-inspired ensembles courtesy of stylist Zoe Costello. Daps couldn’t help but chuckle. “It was just hilarious,” he says. “Those guys are great performers. If I’d been wearing that shit, I would have been laughing… But those guys locked in and turned it on. It’s not often you get to see rappers let loose in that type of environment. Luckily, I was working with people who can do that kind of thing and still look cool.”
“There was no choreographer on set. There were no rehearsals.”
If costumes were one part of the hilarious equation, groovy dance moves were the other. To make it even more impressive, Daps says it was all improvised on the spot. “There was no choreographer on set,” he says. “There were no rehearsals. Offset just showed up, and he can dance for real. Drake [came] in with the slide. Quavo came in with the uncle shuffle. Takeoff is cool, like always. That was all on set, and that was just them.”
Daps also added props to help tell the story. “I always like throwing easter eggs in here and there,” he explains. “The whole [backroom] wall [at the end of the video] was covered in homages to ’70s posters from the struggle, from the Black Panther [Party], black power, and all of that stuff.” Other props included the “Soul Train Scramble” board for added effect.
On the tech side of things, Daps’ plan to use Betamax tapes also paid off. It provided vintage vibes with little need for post-processing. “We didn’t put a filter on it,” he explains. “That is the footage. We added little tweaks here and there, but it’s the actual footage.” Thus, there’s no high-def version. “People were like, ‘Where’s the 1080p version?'” he adds. “There is no 1080p! [People ask] ‘Why isn’t there an option for 1080p on YouTube?’ Because it’s real, that’s why!”
Now that the video is out, Daps will walk it like he talks it into other avenues. “TV and movies is next,” he says. “Music videos are a lot of fun and great for recognition. It’s a great stepping stone because it puts you in front of a bunch of eyes before you get to the silver and big screens.” He says he’d like to specialize in drama and comedy.
But Daps also has plans to release new music soon, picking up an artform he pursued before directing took off. “I didn’t want to put out my own music earlier because I didn’t want to clash with my clients thinking, ‘Is this guy serious?’ Everyone knows I’m serious now,” he says. “There’s no discussion anymore. You can still come to me to make your video, but I also still want to make my other creative content. [New music] is coming this year.”