Captives in cocktail attire — hands bound, eyes darting, mouths taped up — scampered in circles around a chalky white pickup truck. The truck rocked and forth as Gucci Mane and several of his friends stomped and thrust their arms into the thickening, smoke-machine fog, all while caged in its bed. And with his back to it all, Waka Flocka Flame paid no attention. It was a confusing, albeit interesting start on the set for “I Don’t Really Care” (featuring Trey Songz), the latest song to get the Flame video treatment.
Triple F Life, the title of Flame’s sophomore album, stands for Friends, Fans and Family. Flame never seems to need much else, not even to make an impression in music videos — not with his moniker already rendered to a sputtering battle cry, his label name set to a loud squawk and his threats set to Lex Luger’s lo-fi, looping opera. His video for breakout hit “O Let’s Do It” is Flame bouncing and bobbing with a bouncing and bobbing crowd– the rap version of an Andrew W.K. concert. And the video for Flockaveli‘s “Hard in Da Paint,” as thunderous as the song sounds, is essentially Flame and several dozen others standing in a Los Angeles cul-de-sac.
But as the shoot progressed — it stretched from 9 p.m. Monday night to 5 a.m. on Tuesday — its underlying plot started to thicken. Kind of. Relocated from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Biltmore Hotel, the Taj Stansberry-directed crew eventually created a mock art auction out of an unidentified warehouse just blocks away from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home. Friends of Flame plummeted several times through the staged formalities of bidding scenes, tearing paintings off the walls and smashing them into piles of wreckage, as crew members urged everyone to run faster and throw harder. “That shit was wack as hell,” Stansberry (Ludacris, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez) yelled after the first take, before he jumped onto the set and started throwing chairs on top of chairs.
Dozens of extras cowered or ran in nearly every shot — Flame draped a blinged-out Foghorn Leghorn piece around an elderly woman’s neck, a Brick Squad affiliate threatened to slash a prized painting, and Trey Songz nodded continuously to girls who could pass for Kardashian cousins.
Even after eight hours of shooting, it was difficult to tell exactly why Flame and Songz were taking people hostage — or why Brick Squad affiliates, not their captives, were imprisoned in the bed of a pickup truck. Flame knew some, but not all of the somewhat elaborate plot that his director was envisioning. “I’d say I contributed about 10 percent,” he told Hive, his 1017 Brick Squad pendant dangling at average eye level. “I just let the directors do their thing. It’s their art.”
Waka Flocka Flame’s Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family is out June 12.