Jay-Z Felt Hype Williams Was ‘Trying To Play’ Him With A $1.8M Quote For ‘Sunshine’ Music Video
There was a time when if a music video was blowing up, it most likely was the creation of video director Hype Williams, the “It” guy for great visuals. And when the go-to director had the opportunity to work with fellow New Yorker Jay-Z for the single “Can’t Knock the Hustle” off his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, all went well. Then came their second project together: “(Always Be My) Sunshine,” from the album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. And for that, Williams had big ideas — that came with a big price tag.
He quoted Hova a price that was close to $2 million, and that didn’t sit well with the rapper.
In a discussion with Complex, the Brooklyn rapper recalled getting upset at the proposed price and thinking the director was trying to play him.
This took place in 1997, when Roc-A-Fella Records was still an independent label. The budget for Hype Williams’ videos around that time was between $750,000 to $1 million. He and Jay-Z had already worked together filming the Mary J. Blige-assisted song “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” For “Sunshine,” Williams had an idea for a video that caught Jay-Z’s attention.
“He pitched this really grand idea that was amazing,” the “Hard Knock Life” rapper said. “It was this whole circus. I think he had elephants. I think he may have given the idea to Busta. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I remember being blown away by it. And then he said the number, and I think it was, like, $1.8 million or something. And I was like, ‘Hype, come on, bro.’ Like I got mad at him. Like are you trying to play me? You think I’m dumb?”
They ended up working on the video together, but it didn’t play out the way Williams originally envisioned. Still, the rapper said he learned a valuable lesson
“So to fit the budget we stripped the idea down. And I learned a valuable lesson from that. Either I’m going to trust Hype’s vision or I’m going to go with another idea. Don’t condense ideas. Either shoot the brilliant idea or move to another idea. Don’t take a brilliant idea and make it less and then expect brilliant results. That’s not how life works. We broke down the idea and it looks like a cheap version of what we were trying to shoot. So we did it to ourselves. But then you realize in hindsight that the money, it’s just money. But the visuals are priceless. The Missy video is priceless. The Busta video is priceless.”
This was what the video ended up looking like:
Williams also did the video for the hit record Jay-Z recorded with UGK (Underground Kingz), “Big Pimpin.”