Jeff Adair Has Worked His Ass Off To Become Dallas’ Go-To Hip-Hop Video Director.
If you follow Dallas hip-hop, you’ve seen the Dream Work Conquer Films title card at some point. You’ve had to. The man behind Dream Work Conquer Films, Jeff Adair, has directed music videos for Dallas’ biggest hip-hop acts such as Dorrough, A.Dd+; Blue, The Misfit, Yung Nation and Snow Tha Product, just to name a few.
With over 75 music videos under his belt since 2008, Adair has established himself as the music video director for Dallas’ hip-hop acts. A music video by Adair is almost a prerequisite for any new artist on the scene. Aside from a few reoccurring props, it’s easy to see why his work is highly sought after — each artist comes away with a unique piece of work that’s primed for BET limelight, as a couple of Adair’s videos — like Pooca Leroy’s, “Rap Money” — already have.
We spoke to Adair about the path he’s taken to become such a prominent member of Dallas’ hip-hop scene and where he sees his work taking him.
So you had a video shoot today. Tell us about it.
I was shooting with an artist named Yola Franklin, who’s actually Aqib Talib’s niece. We shot four videos in the last month. She’s from North Dallas and it’s some brand-new music. She’s been doing her own thing and she’s about to release her first EP.
Makes sense that’d you’d be shooting a music video for a Dallas hip-hop artist the day of our interview. How did you get started shooting hip-hop music videos?
The first video I ever shot was a hip-hop video. I was at the Art Institute and was about to graduate and my teachers were like, “Hey, get all the projects you’ve done and find the four strongest ones and that’ll be your reel.” But I was thinking, “I’m not going to put anything I’ve done so far on my reel. I’m gonna shoot everything right now.” As a young person doing video stuff you’re always thinking your next project will be better than your last, so I felt like I wanted to get a really good reel of some industry relevant stuff and one of the videos will be music stuff. There was an artist I met who was working at a Cheddar’s and I did a video for him, for free, and that basically got me my first paid gig. I think I got like $500 for that second one. And it just became this thing where I can dedicate all my time making music videos and making money. That’s really how simple it was.
Who was that first artist?
It was a guy named Alley Cat and the video was for a song called, “I Get Money.”
Then from there you just became more immersed in local hip-hop?
The jump off was the third video I did. It was a local who got B Hamp on the song, and I met B Hamp’s manager through the video I did with that guy and he was really impressed with the behind the scenes work that went into it and said, “Hey, I got this big record that could potentially be B Hamp’s next single and I wanna do a big video.” So I came up with a treatment. At that time it was the biggest budget I’d worked with and it was a bigger shoot. We were at Beamers, a lot of people were involved and from that shoot, I started doing videos with Young Black and Rich Mind. This was in like 2009-10 and I was getting a few looks. Every video started trickling into another possible video from the people you’re working with.
In that time you’ve probably seen a lot hip-hop artists come and go.
Well, I provide a service and I can only do so much and I work with a lot of people that I’ve been seeing since I started and I see a lot of new people. I see that as a good thing. There’s just a lot of awesome, new artists that can represent the city, but it’s really a small world here.
With all the music videos you’ve done and them specifically being hip-hop videos, how much of the concepts are yours vs. the artist’s?
It varies from artist to artist. I’d like to say every artist who comes through the door has a few frames in their mind for the video, so I always begin there and then bring a slice of the pie, always keeping it industry relevant. A lot of the times the artist have crazy ideas that may not flow, but it’s really just a dance.
If you can spill, who were some artists really difficult to work with?
Not many. One of my strong points is client communication. I always make sure I’m communication with them about the idea and making sure they feel good about it and making sure there’s no awkwardness, y’know? You really just set it all up from the start.
Which are some of your favorite videos that you’ve done?
Of course the stuff with A.Dd+. The Pooca Leroy video made it to BET, that’s cool. The videos with Dorrough because he’s the biggest artist I’ve worked with and he’s definitely helped me get my brand out there and I really appreciate that. Those are just a few that stand out.
Now that you’ve built a brand for yourself, are you still going to artists for work, or are they mostly coming to you?
It’s been a little bit of both. I go out and try to network and meet people that I can provide music videos to and at the same time I hustle and grind so much that word just gets out. The work I’ve done is my main marketing.
What about branching out and leaving Dallas?
Yeah, right now I could definitely do things outside of Dallas. I’ve done a handful of things in Cali, Atlanta and New York, so I really want to do more of that but right now Dallas is a great place to keep growing and getting better at my craft. Of course, my dream would be to live in Cali and do some cool videos and films in the span of my lifetime. And live by the beach more importantly and raise my family there.
How do you feel about being Dallas’ go-to director for hip-hop music videos?
Well, I like my life — it’s pretty cool. I get to hang with my family, edit and work from home, so that’s awesome. I definitely have to hustle and bring work in so it’s a 24/7, 365 job but I love what I’m doing right now. To be on a creative level, get money from it and be able to continue to grow that’s what everyone is trying to do, really.