Spiff TV Talks Directing French Montana's 'No Shopping' Video Feat. Drake & Working on 'The Union' Compilation: Exclusive
Spiff TV's hustle never stops. The Dominican/Puerto Rican video director, producer and A&R man who has worked alongside rap's elite like Rick Ross, Diddy, DJ Khaled, Drake and French Montana adds another clip to his highlight reel with French's new "No Shopping" video featuring Drake.
While the video was initially slated for a shoot in Los Angeles, Drake and right-hand producer Noah "40" Shebib's pre-Summer Sixteen tour vacation spot, Casa de Campo villa in the Dominican Republic, turned into the last-minute backdrop for the visual.
Watch it here:
Below, Spiff TV (the Orlando-by-way-of-New York rep born Carlos Suarez) talks directing the "No Shopping" video (which premieres today (July 29) at 7:55 p.m. ET), his musical come-up and blending hip-hop with Latin music for his forthcoming compilation LP, The Union.
Describe the creative vision for the "No Shopping" video.
We wanted to do something different. With me, French and Drake, there's a lot of association with the Latin world. For some reason, everybody thinks Drake's Dominican and that French Montana is Puerto Rican. We wanted to give that vibe and show the world that Dominican Casa de Campo energy. We did a skit, too, making fun of the Spanish side. They always call Drake "El Draké" and there's all these memes of him dancing bachata. It's just a fun party.
How are Drake and French's Spanish-speaking skills?
French is pretty good. The video's like an Easter egg. If you watch it all the way through, you'll see French talking in Spanish a little bit. French's Spanish is on point 'cause he's from the Bronx and hangs out with Puerto Ricans. He hangs around me, his management's Latin. He would always tell me that he would hear the bodega playing the classic merengue and salsa, and he'll sing 'em. He doesn't know the words but he knows the melodies. Drake can talk [Spanish] too. They both know the basics like "hola," "como esta."
You're also directing Drake's "Child's Play" video. What can viewers expect to see?
The "Child's Play" video is gonna be epic. Drake had the vision and it's gonna be special. Like the way Michael Jackson used to shoot his videos. Together, we killed the s--t. He wants to put this out before OVO Fest, so I just got a new edit right now. You'll be surprised to see the cameo and the lead roles. I'm also just in the studio, working on this collaborative hip-hop/Latin album called The Union.
What made you to decide to combine both worlds for this project?
I come from the hip-hop side, being an A&R for Rick Ross, working on all his albums and giving him the biggest singles that he's had like "B.M.F." "MC Hammer," "Diced Pineapples," "Stay Schemin'." And being Latino, there's not too many Latin people who's in power on [the hip-hop] side. Knowing the Latin world and a lot of the big Latin artists, I'm like, "let's just bring everybody together and make big music."
Reggaeton came up quickly in the early 2000s thanks to guys like Daddy Yankee and Wisin y Yandel. Why do you feel like now is the perfect time to release the album?
Now, Latin artists are doing the same thing. Before, they were almost trying to catch up with hip-hop and now the music is changing. Now they're accepting songs like [De La Ghetto, Arcangel, Ozuna and Anuel Aa's] "La Ocasion," a hip-hop song they're playing on the radio. Before, [artists] had to do the reggaeton because it played on the radio. They all really wanna rap on rap beats like their favorite rappers. Now, they're accepting that and the genre's also changing. The music I been working on is that song. I got Rick Ross, Daddy Yankee, Yandel, Fabolous, Prince Royce, De La Gheto, Maluma, Zion y Lennox, Wale, Omarion, DJ Khaled, Migos, Farruko, Arcangel. Khaled inspired me to do that for the Latin side and just bring this genre to the forefront.
What was that conversation with Khaled like?
Just watching him doing his thing, going from being a DJ -- they said he could never DJ on a big radio station, he could never do this or that and then just showing people his grind and his motivation, and politicking. [Having] 10, 15 years in the game, me building relationships to where I could call Future to get on the song and he's like, "I got you." Now is the time. I just directed my first feature [called Respect The Shooter]. French Montana, Michael K. Williams and Chris Brown are in it. Coming off the music videos, I always said I wanted to shoot movies. It was a transition from music and I just love to do it. You got Khaled in the intro talking Spanish, saying he don't see nobody, "No veo a nadie." I'm in editing right now so hopefully, in September, we drop that.
How far along is the album?
It's a movie getting the songs done. Like, boom, Migos already recorded [their verses] and then me chasing down a Latin artist to do the bridge and a hook. The guy's booked with shows every day so that's why it's been a process. I've been working on this for two years. Some artists do the s--t fast. Gucci Mane recorded his verse before he got locked up. It's still fresh and brand new. He's out now so a video is on deck. Juicy J recorded in his hotel room. That's why he goes everywhere with his studio. I'm trying to track these guys down, book a room and get in the studio with 'em is the key. I got a bachata record that's crazy with Chris Brown and Prince Royce on it.
What about the ladies? I'm sure you could tell French Montana to ask Jennifer Lopez for some bars.
Might have to plug it up. Not gonna lie, I asked him, like, 'Yo French, you did three songs with J.Lo. If you not really gonna use those feature favors, get her on [this project].' He's like, 'I got you. I'ma ask.' I said, 'Make it happen. When do you need J.Lo on a Mac & Cheese record? Not really. It doesn't match.' [Laughs]
How did you get your foot into the music business?
[I started by] moving from New York to Orlando when I was 5 -- Orlando is like little Puerto Rico -- and linking up with DJ Nasty, a big producer and DJ out in Orlando, carrying the crates [and him] showing me the ropes. With me having an ear for music and finding beats, Nasty linked me with Khaled, who lived in Orlando, too. I was on the road with Khaled for his first album [2006's Listennn... the Album] and we did "Holla At Me (Baby)." [I was] just hustling, finding beats, finding producers and got with Ross. Then I gave Ross "Mafia Music," the song where he dissed 50 Cent and started the whole beef. I was doing visual stuff too and had a camera with me so I would give the music, shoot the music video and do the artwork for it, you know, be a one-stop shop. For "Mafia Music," I gave him the beat, shot the video and started shooting videos, doing music and placing records.
You're also dabbling in video games.
There's a game company IM3 Gaming, Inc. and they're taking over the urban gaming [realm] so I was a part of Meek Mill's Bike Life game from a creative standpoint, building the game and coming up with ideas. That game did a million downloads. It was No. 1 in the app store. We just locked in another game called Speed God with French and it comes out the same time as his album in August. Then there's another one coming out with The Game called Block Wars, like a clash of clans type of game. You build cities and go to war with everybody. [We're] just locking in a lot of stuff now.
What made you decide to go into the gaming app business?
I love video games. I see everybody making money with their ideas. Pokémon Go makes seven million dollars a day. It did $30 million the first day. I spent $25 on Pokemon Go. I'm pissed. [Laughs] My crib is right in between two Pokéstops so my s--t is popping all the time. I don't even have to get out the bed -- I just hit the Pokéstops and I'm good. [My strongest Pokémon is] Vaporeon with 1300 [combat points]. I whooped a gym owner yesterday. The dude was weak and I put my name on there.
Congratulations on your big win. How do you differentiate between good business and bad business?
I've had companies that I tried doing like my own clothing company back in 2013. I was running around with Ross and he was like, 'Yeah, make the clothing line.' We made the clothing line, made the website, Ross tweets it out and I get all these orders and I'm trying to mail out t-shirts by myself. That s--t crashed and burned but you learn as you go.
Who would you consider your business mentors?
I learned stuff from Ross, Khaled and I've traveled to Paris with Puff. I've worked on Puff's album as a creative. I look up to him as a music mogul who's doing everything. He's about to be the first hip-hop billionaire soon, doing liquor, music and movies. With Ross, coming from the streets and turning into a mogul himself, you learn different things from the street and it works in the business world. With Khaled's grind, he's touring with Beyoncé and sharing the stage with Jay now. Epic.
Any aspect of the business you want to tackle that you haven't yet?
A lot of the things... Just trying to be legends.