The Making of a “Kushy” Music Video

I was fortunate enough to play a part in the making of “Kush” -an A-list celeb fest of the who’s who in the hip hop music video scene. As the Global Lead of Integrated Production at Team SapientNitro, my group was tasked to orchestrate a product placement deal for Chrysler Corp to introduce the new Dodge Durango “Citadel” to a very specific audience with a “Hollywood” splash and Dr. Dre’s Kush music video featuring Snoop Dogg (actually exiting the luxury sport utility) was the perfect vehicle (pun intended).

From Chronic to Kush… Although Dr. Dre has been fairly ubiquitous through his Beats By Dre audio empire, it has been over a decade since he last stepped out as a solo artist on The Chronic 2001. “Kush” is part retro and part futuristic: On the audio side, it reconnects Dre with Snoop Dogg, but also brings Dre into the auto-tune modernity of Akon. Videowise, Joseph Kahn spotlights a damn beautiful frozen-in-time effect, one that he first played with in his U2 + Lara Croft Elevation video back in 2006 below,

but takes to a whole other level here. But mostly, this futuristic and impressive video is a throwback in scope (and probably budget) to when videos had to be BIGGER, BETTER, BEST.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kahn did his homework drawing on additional inspiration from productions like the Philips Carousel Video (a web-based film that won commercial of the year) directed by Adam Berg and Sting Digital Productions for Tribal DDB Amsterdam.

Check out the following two versions of the Making of Philips Carousel for the Philips Cinema 21:9 TV to see how these film and video production gurus captured multiple moments in time in a single frame with such realism and cinematic quality-the same techniques and technical insights adopted and applied to the making of Kush.



Even after being in the business for over 20 years, the first time I saw this video I was absolutely stunned and in a state of jaw-dropping amazement. The second time, I thought-DAMN-that’s incredibly impressive. Then once my heart rate settled, I became a bit more lucid with my thinking. Beautifully thought through, just plain fascinating. Hypnotic, wonderful music, a helluva way to tell a story. Shame it wasn’t part of a large feature film. Would have loved it that way – just think – what a original way to tell the story of an elaborate heist. No wonder Adam Berg was being looked at very seriously for the Deadpool film (Marvel + Fox eventually chose Tim Miller).

Joseph Kahn directed the music video for the song. The music video was shot November 18, 2010 in Downtown LA. 50 Cent, E-40, Roccett, The Menace and Glasses Malone were present for the shooting of the video, but do not make cameo appearances. DJ Khalil, producer of the song, makes a cameo appearance throwing a Beats By Dr. Dre headphone towards the camera in a freeze frame shot. December 10, 2010 marked the video’s release on Vevo.

The video, directed by Joseph Kahn, begins as Dre is seated in a sleek, black Lamborghini, attempting to flick a Zippo. Once Dr. Dre ignites it, the beat drops, and he exits the car.

Dre approaches the club in a setting similar to “The Next Episode”, one of his past hits. But the festivities around him are ice cold; the club patrons are statue-like, frozen in the parking lot and inside, in mid groove.

Early in the video for Kush, the latest song from hip hop superstar Dr. Dre, a long passing shot lingers close up on a Dodge grill, panning with the beat over the Durango model, landing on a “Citadel” livery on the door as it opens and Dre compatriot Snoop Dog steps out (below).

Snoop Dogg kicks things off on the second verse and he is surrounded by a bevy of beautiful, frozen women. They’re smiling, drinks are pouring, but they’re also statues compared to the rapper.

As Dre makes his way into the club and to the bar, however, the party livens up.

Dre pulls out his lighter, engraved with the song’s title, and holds it to the sprinklers overhead, setting them off. As water rains down on the partygoers, they come back to life, gyrating to the thumping track’s production. Later, Dre and Snoop leave the club, and Dre drives off into the night on an empty highway, surrounded by the streaking lights of cars that are no longer there.

Akon makes appearances periodically while singing the hook. He appears to be in a private jet with money frozen in mid-air, as well as women seemingly dancing, though they too are statuesque.

Featured Artists: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog and Akon
Released: November 18, 2010 (USA), November 21, 2010 (UK)
Format: Digital download, CD Single
Recorded: 2010 (Summer Time)
Genre: Hip hop
Length: 3:55
Label: Aftermath, Interscope
Writer(s): K. Rahman, A. Young, A. Thiam, A. Johnson II, D. Tannenbaum, A. Ransom, M. Jones III, B. Honeycutt
Producer: DJ Khalil for DJ Khalil Productions, LLC.
Recorded by: Jason Schweitzer, Mauricio “Veto” Iragorri and Stephen Breuheus
Mixed by: Dr. Dre
Keyboards by: Danny Keyz and DJ Khalil
Additional Vocals by: Sly “Pyper” Jordan, Blackthoven and Kobe
Snoop Dogg appears courtesy of Doggystyle Records
Akon appears courtesy of Konvict/Upfront, SRC & Universal/Motown

Director: Joseph Kahn
DP: Joseph Kahn
Producer(s): Mary Ann Tanedo + Kathy Angstadt
Production Company: HSI
Editor: David Blackburn
DFX: Ingenuity Engine
Set Designer: Marcelle Gravel

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