Yesterday's video shoot for Shawty Lo's "Atlanta, GA" single (produced by Insane Wayne and featuring Ludacris, the Dream and an incarcerated Gucci Mane) offered the ultimate study in contrasts.
Two luxury tour buses hugged Angier Park at the corner of Boulevard, where video director Mr. Boomtown and his film crew were setting up the obligatory hangin'-in-the-hood shot in 20-degree weather. Surrounded by Boulevard's conspicuous Section 8 housing, they'd scouted the location specifically for its rough exterior. But finding the perfect, authentic spot had proved more challenging than they'd imagined.
"We had the project scene written into the treatment but it was hard to find one cause so many projects been torn down," Boomtown said. Shawty Lo's native Bowen Homes was not an option either since the notorious Bankhead housing project was demolished in 2009.
As a clean, black Cadillac Escalade pulled up near the curb, the rear passenger door opened and out slid Soulja Boy, looking cameo-ready in a red and black lumberjack jacket and a Cincinnati Reds fitted. He seemed low-key and nearly indistinguishable from the small crowd despite the diamond-encrusted "The World Is Yours" pendant dangling from his neck. He hopped on top of a small brick embankment to slap dap with Lo and his surrounding entourage as random cameras some media, some not encircled them. Producer Zaytoven and the Dream, who wrote and sings the hook on "Atlanta, GA," joined them as they posed for pics.
It mattered not that it was cold as hell; the finished product needed to look hot. So the hottest video models who dared to brave the below freezing temps were called from the buses to the set to begin shooting the next scene. The only layers protecting them from sudden frostbite were the stretch tights clinging to their shapely thighs and rear ends. A Nicki Minaj look-a-like had her cleavage exposed for the camera.
"Let's go! I need a lotta energy, hands in the air throwin' up that A," Mr. Boomtown yelled after the first couple of takes. Shawty Lo asked his publicist, Tamiko Hope, for some lotion. Keeping hands and lips from appearing ashy was a job in itself. Someone standing behind the camera dug through her purse in search of some Carmex. "We need that movement man!" Mr. Boomtown directed before another take. "Y'all cold? That's how you get warm."
The music started and he yelled "Action!" again. The scene began to resemble a pep rally for the home team as Lo and the Dream crowded the camera lip-synching verses, while flanked by Soulja Boy, Zaytoven, a sprinkling of vixens and and an army of Lo's peeps (friends, business associates, unknown artists and random hangers-on) dressed mostly in black as they fingered upside-down peace signs in the air.
"Good. I like that," Boomtown chimed in while his crew wheeled the camera back and forth on a dolly.
A couple of obvious security dudes wearing CIA shades and black ties rounded the periphery. But it was so cold out that they seemed totally unnecessary. Only a handful of people from the neighborhood took time to stop by the set in search of who's who.
"I knew that was Dream," said a resident of the nearby apartments who happened to have the day off from his day job at Popeye's on Roswell Rd. He said he couldn't help but recognize the R&B sensation. "He be coming through the drive-thru at work."
See Joeff Davis' entire photo gallery of the shoot.
Editor's note: Post changed to reflect the correct producer of "Atlanta, GA." The track was produced by Insane Wayne. Music producer Zaytoven made a cameo appearance in the video.
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