Drake’s “Hotline Bling” Video Inspired By Sean Paul

“Hotline Bling” is currently breaking the Internet. As he makes a push for his first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, your timeline is overflowing with Drake memes. Director X’s visual has Aubrey on colourful, luminescent set pieces showcasing his goofy dance moves, many of which have been reborn as countless GIFs and Vine dubs that are sure to keep Fat Jew eating for weeks. In short, “Hotline Bling” belongs to the Internet now.

With the “Hotline Bling” video being as ubiquitous as it is, certain revelations about its influences are now coming to light. Just as D.R.A.M. has called into question the musical originality of “Hotline Bling,” it turns out there could be reason to question the creative origins of the accompanying music video.

Upon the release of “Hotline Bling,” many people drew comparisons to music videos for “Gimme The Light” and “Still In Love” by ‘00s hit-factory Sean Paul, which makes a lot of sense, given that Director X was at the helm for all three. Those who dug a little deeper found deep visual similarities between “Hotline Bling” and the work of 72-year-old visual artist James Turrell. Both use vibrant backlit sets, abstract geometric structures, and silhouetted figures. The striking resemblance, and Drake’s known affinity for Turrell’s work, led many to assume he was involved, or at least consulted for the production of the video.

However, it turns out that Turrell was not involved in the creation of the video in any way, shape, or form. In an interview with Noisey, Director X clarified that James Turrell was not a conscious inspiration for the “Hotline Bling” video. Instead, he looks at is as an progression of his earlier work for Sean Paul, as originally influenced by the visual master Hype Williams:

“You know this is really my style as far as graphically. A lot of people are picking up on the two Sean Paul videos that I did for influence: “Gimme The Light” and “I’m Still In Love.” “Gimme the Light” had a backlit set piece, although those sets didn’t look like they were emanating light like they way they are here. And “Still In Love” was people in boxes. You know I have a very graphic style, G Dep “Let’s Get It,” 112 “Peaches and Cream,” I’m one of the guys who does set driven video. And that’s because I came from the school of the master of set driven videos: Hype Williams. So this video is just a continuation of my style. But hey, compare me to James Turrell if you want, it’s a compliment.”
Even though there’s an undeniable similarity between “Hotline Bling” and the work of Turrell, it seems plausible that the resemblance is accidental, and that the video is an evolution of the colourful, set-driven videos in Director X’s back catalogue.

Watch “Gimme The Light” and “I’m Still In Love Below,” then compare it to the “Hotline Bling” video and the work of James Turrell, and draw your own conclusions.

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