How Young Thug’s “Wyclef Jean” Video Was Made Without Him

The music video for Young Thug’s “Wyclef Jean” was released this week, and has become an instant sensation, racking up nearly five million views in just over 48 hours. The video was co-directed by Brooklyn-based producer Ryan Staake and Young Thug himself – though as the video clearly states, the star never quite made it on set.

To get to the bottom of the $100,000 USD disaster, Staake sat down with Pigeons and Planes and began by acknowledging that the shoot itself was nothing short of a complete mess. Not only did the Atlanta rapper show up 10 hours late, he wouldn’t actually get out of the car upon arrival, meaning Staake never got to meet the man he was making $100k music video for.

Staake’s excerpt from the interview sets the bizarre scene.

“My take on it now is that I’m very pleased with the result and happy with how it turned out, but looking back on my personal mental state on set, I was very angry and pissed off at what was happening. I flew out from New York with three people from my team and put together a very specific video based on what this dude said he wanted and he couldn’t even fucking get out of the car to partake. And that was very nerve-racking and annoying. On top of that, you’re looking around at all this lighting gear and trucks and people. It’s incredibly fucking wasteful, you know? Just that level of monetary investment. So it was a very angry time. Then at the end I came to terms with it and I don’t know if I’d want to be as dramatic to call it an out of body experience, but I stepped back from it and thought, ‘This is like The Twilight Zone. This is a bizarre moment that I’m involved in right now. I don’t know what’s going on right now. It’s kind of hilarious. It’s kind of deeply saddening. It’s just all of these emotions at once.”‘

Nevertheless, despite the unprecedented amount of obstacles faced on set, the final product is as laughable as it is impressive and is an early contender for video of the year. Staake’s ability to overlook the train wreck of shooting and creatively turn it into something uniquely viral is magnificent, especially considering that he didn’t even know his final product would be used.

“I honestly had no idea that this thing was coming out until it came out. I had a sense that, ‘OK, I’ve delivered it, they’ve paid the final invoice, things seem good,’ but based on the way things had gone, I wasn’t really ready to get my hopes up.”

For the full interview, head over to the Pigeons and Planes website.