Only in the video production world since 2011, Eif Rivera, video director, editor, and 3D graphic artist, has earned the respect of many rap heavy-weights. (He's "the new Hype Williams," according to Busta Rhymes.) But boy wonder isn’t a boy at all. Rivera has crafted everything from album artwork to promo t-shirts over the years. He's the mastermind behind many of 50 Cent's music videos, iconic logos like the Air Pun design and Young Jeezy’s Snowman campaign to, most recently, French Montana's "Excuse My French" album cover.
“I used to be a barber, and Gaby [Acevedo] (French Montana’s manager) was my customer,” Rivera told The Juice. As Acevedo worked his way up the ranks in SRC and Loud Records circles in the ‘90s, he’d find ways to include the Bronx native and New York City’s High School of Art & Design graduate in artists’ projects.
If Rivera’s not spending time with his wife and eight year-old son, the late-blooming director is working tirelessly on his next projects. Like director/editor Colin Tilley, his surgical eye determines when he’s captured the shots he needs, allowing him to quickly move on and dive into editing immediately after leaving set. Rivera’s animation background is the bonus, however. Eliminating the need to use post houses, the low profile one-man-team can under-bid his larger competitors and condense turnaround time.
How's a day in Rivera's shoes? After shooting 50’s “We Up” video with Kendrick Lamar in Los Angeles Wednesday (March 6), Rivera made edits to the “Freaks” video in LAX and landed back in New York in time to deliver the final version to Interscope in time for its televised premiere on 106 & Park on Thursday.
"50 and Kendrick seemed excited to work with each other," Rivera said. "They both have respect for each other and it seemed very genuine between the both of them during the shoot."
Whether you approve of his technologically savvy execution or not, there’s no denying Rivera’s in the pocket right now. Having collaborated with 50 Cent for 17 videos to date, the two good friends are set to break ground on a motion picture by the end of 2013. And if Rivera can just cross Jay-Z and Pusha T off his list of artists to work with before then, he’d be content in not looking back.
“Just last year, I met Dr. Dre and that led to 50,” Rivera explained of 50. Directing videos for French Montana’s “Straight Off The Boat” with Rick Ross and Fat Joe's Lil’ Wayne-assisted, “Yellow Tape," wasn’t even an issue, despite the fact that 50’s rivals were involved. “I know both of them [and] they’re both my brothers,” Rivera told us of 50 and Fat Joe, both who after Chris Lighty’s unfortunate passing, buried the hatchet at the BET Awards last year. “Did I have something to do with that, with them shaking hands? Yes.”
Rivera’s been told his down-to-earth vibe is equally disarming on set. Putting even the most notoriously difficult artists at ease, the rapper whisperer is able to bring his high-energy, performance-based treatments to life.
Soon after shooting Nicki Minaj squatting on a throne with star pasties over her nipples for French Montana's "Freaks," Rivera was met with Minaj’s gleeful approval. It's an image memorable enough to taste longevity. “This is the illest shot of me I’ve ever seen anybody do!” she told him, solidifying her gratitude with a firm pound. “Who knows,” he remarked optimistically, “we might end up doing some more stuff in the future.”
- The Juice