When Dave Meyers first met Missy Elliott, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" had just come out. The year was 2000, and though she had a successful album under her belt, Missy had yet to win six Grammys and 21 Billboard Music Awards, and she still hadn't become the only female rapper in history to have six platinum albums. Meyers was an up-and-coming director that Missy had her eye on.
"Missy recruited me. She had seen my work and wanted to sit down for dinner, and we went to the movies to talk about visual filmmaking," Meyers said. "We went to see 'Crouching Tiger' and that was ripe with visuals that at the time were pretty cutting-edge."
Together, Meyers and Missy made some of her most memorable music videos, including "Work It," "Pass That Dutch" and "Lose Control," propelling both their careers to new heights: Missy would win five MTV Video Music Awards including Best Video of the Year in 2003; Meyers would create the ubiquitous dancing silhouettes ad campaign for Apple.
So, after seven years without a video, Missy Elliot released "WTF (Where They From?)" last week, and it was no surprise she co-directed the video with Meyers.
This time, Meyers wanted to try something different.
"In the past we took on very large sets and big universes and very large, surreal ideas," Meyers said. "With a title like 'Where They From?' — with her being absent for some while to the point that some young people don't even realize who she is — to me, it felt like it would be an interesting contrast... where you put it her in the street, but you still have her be larger than life."
Angelenos may recognize those streets, as Meyers shot the entire video in downtown Los Angeles.
But this isn't your hipster's downtown. The locations for the video offer a visual tour of DTLA's often-ignored or disappearing icons.
There's the 6th street bridge.
Pershing Square Metro Station, which Meyers said was "actually really accommodating... they had the least amount of restrictions of any of the locations that we had."
There are even Missy Elliott and Pharrell Williams puppets dancing in the Jewelry District.
Meyers said it was the puppets that the video was built around. It took three months to build them.
"That's where the idea started," Meyers said. "[Missy] and Pharrell had spoken, and they wanted to do a video that was all puppet-based. And then as we started building the puppets and we got that in the pipeline, Missy and I started having our reunion and talking about all the things that made our videos stand out."
Missy hasn't set a date yet for her next album release, but Meyers says she's "back. Big time."
As for Meyers, he's happy to be reunited with his long-time video collaborator, who he hasn't worked with in six years.
"It was a huge reunion, we were smiling the whole time. You know, we climbed the mountain together several times over back in the day," Meyers said. "Missy, she provides a really great landscape for me to go anywhere, and the way in which she raps and changes subjects all within even a verse, allows me to be as random or diverse as I feel like being."