How Jack Harlow Directed a ‘First Class’ Music Video | New

Jack Harlow had a first-class year. He’s racked up eight nominations for the 2022 VMAs, making him the most nominated artist this year (tied with peers Doja Cat and Harry Styles), and he’s set to both perform onstage and host the ceremony. He’s come a long way since hitting the VMA Pre-Show with “Whats Poppin” in 2020 — and as such, Harlow has been able to increase budgets for his creative endeavors since then, a sign of his growing notoriety.

Case in point: For his “First Class” cinematic video, released in May, Harlow decided to make some noise and rap in front of a helicopter. And near powerful industrial fans. And on an airport runway in the middle of the night. It was all shot on film, giving the final look a touchable texture, and it features a cameo from none other than fellow VMA nominee/performer Anitta. These are the elements that make a pop star look cool in a visual. But you just don’t get the confidence of major labels with the resources to pull off such extravagant feats unless you’ve proven yourself.

Harlow did it, thanks in part to the production team behind him, including director Jack Begert (who also directed music videos for SZA, Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples), and Ace Pro, the town buddy Harlow native and trusted collaborator who acted as creative director on this video. “We had a very limited time to put this together, but it came out,” Ace told MTV News, alluding to last-minute changes that were made to the song ahead of its release. “He did well and went to No. 1.”

Ace has worked with Harlow for years, and the rapper even shouted him out by name on “Tyler Herro,” along with all the members of The Homies, the anchors of Louisville rap group Ace. He has been heavily involved in some of Harlow’s most popular videos, including co-directing “Nail Tech” and serving as creative director for Harlow’s Drake collaboration “Churchill Downs.” Above all, for “First Class,” he knew Harlow had achieved a spot of stardom where he could make big demands, like making his dream of recruiting Anitta a reality.

“We wanted to add more juice to the video,” says Ace. “We were watching a lot of old Kanye videos – the ‘All Falls Down’ video with Stacey Dash, then ‘Touch the Sky’ with Nia Long and Tracee Ellis Ross. Think 10 years from now, when people watch this video and they say, ‘Wow, Anitta was in that video.'” Ace co-wrote the video treatment with Harlow and “Floridaman,” a mysterious third presence that he refused to explain.

The Homies are supporting Harlow on his tour this fall, and to prepare, Ace has been working on translating their typical club show to work on an arena scale. It’s all about Ace’s work day. “I’ve always been kind of a Renaissance man,” he says. On video sets he handles logistics and creative decisions, and for “First Class” he often acted as a go-between and creative translator for Harlow and Begert. Ace is in an interesting position now, still producing indie videos with his band The Homies – “I Stand Up [a cinematographer’s] shoulder as he shoots, telling him, ‘Do this’” – while helping run hit shows with Harlow.

“Now [with big-budget shoots], there is a whole crew. The [director of photography] is probably sitting next to me, saying, ‘OK, maybe we’re doing this plan this way.’ There’s an art department, PA’s galore. Before all of these things started to appear, we were doing everything about sourcing, resources, casting and all of that in-house.

These days, there are also extra safety features in place on large-scale sets to ensure rising star Harlow can protect himself in front of extremely loud sets like helicopters and spinning metal. He had earplugs on until the very last minute before the camera rolled, especially since film costs so much more than shooting digitally. The film’s paranoid feel, and some of the stylized shots themselves, were allusions to Alfred Hitchcock’s film. rear window (Harlow is a notorious fan). Whether by design or not, a stylish sense of danger hangs from every corner of the visual.

“When there’s a noisy chopper going full throttle, propellers changing and all that kind of stuff, and you’re filming, it’s important to have one-on-one communication with your talent,” Ace says, mentioning confidence of the crew. on walkie-talkies. Other security concerns stemmed from the remote California location of the airstrip filming location: “In the distance, I believe we were seeing mountain lions and all kinds of things.”

Yet “First Class” is just another project for Ace. The Homies new album, There’s a lot going on, dropped last week. He is already planning future shoots and shows in the arenas. His achievements continue to be celebrated. And yet, the biggest advantage for Ace is how his city, more than anything else, comes out on top.

“People are starting to look at Louisville, Kentucky very differently and are starting to treat us with a lot more respect. Obviously, Jack is blowing up a lot, and we’re keeping it all in house as much as possible, and it’s all organic,” he says. “That’s what makes it dope.”

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