Jason Joyride, up-and-coming director and creative talent for Rico Nasty, talks Gen Z’s responsibility for social change, and reinventing musicals for the hip-hop age.
When you first watch Rico Nasty’s music video for ‘Popstar’, a trap and punk-infused banger that dropped in early April, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the explosive colour, jittery doodles, and electric backdrops. The video is the brainchild of Jason Joyride, a young Gen Z film maker and music video director who’s quickly cemented himself as an exciting and emerging talent in the hip-hop scene.
‘Popstar’ is a mix of early Avril Lavigne and Lil Uzi Vert with a generous helping of the Sex Pistols to boot. If anyone could be described as a modern alternative hip-hop star for the streaming age, you’d be hard pressed to find a better fit than Rico Nasty – XXL named the track one of 2020’s best hip-hop songs so far, and the video is racking up views on YouTube.
Jason also recently directed the video for hip-hop collective Deep Ends’ track ‘Splash’, which involves a bank robbery and a giant cat (that’s Jason’s cat, Frank) walking around on a freeway – because why not – and has a ton of other videos for bigger artists expected to release soon. You’ll no doubt be hearing his name a lot more in the coming years.
We were lucky enough to grab an hour of his time recently to talk about everything from early high school ambitions to the Black Lives Matter protests that continue to sweep across the US and beyond. As with everything these days our call was over Zoom, but even through a long distance video call his passion for creativity and genuine social change was infectious, and he has a ton of advice for other young film makers looking to get into the industry.
How did Jason know he wanted to be a director?
Jason’s career path isn’t typical, but he knew he wanted to pursue film from an early age. ‘I was in fifth grade and my teacher said you can either do a two page book report, or you can make a video report. I decided to do the video one. It was a ton of work but it was fun to make. I remember there was a visual effect I did where I had a paper bomb and I threw it off screen and added a shitty explosion sound effect. I was like, this is so cool, but the class didn’t share my excitement. They thought it sucked. But I thought it was wild I could do that.’
From there, Jason was keen to get himself a computer and a green screen to start creating content in his free time. ‘I asked my parents if they would buy me a new computer. They didn’t let me, but they did help me save up for it. I did odd jobs, lemonade stands, mowing lawns, and eventually I finally got it. I could finally use this footage I’d had stored for two years – and it didn’t work. I think it was at that moment that I started on the path I’m on. I think if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t be used to failure and rejection. I wanted to learn – how can I get really good at this?’
And he did get really good at it. Moving to LA earlier this year and leaving his full time position at 2k Games, Jason is now pursuing film full time, and is able to concentrate all of his efforts on his content output. ‘At 2k I got to work with and befriend one of the head influencers, Ronnie2K, and a lot of the artists I now work with, ironically. I met them there and then again later on doing what I do now, directing their videos, it was a funny full circle thing.’
He’s also quite selective about the people he works with, opting to choose musicians and artists that genuinely inspire him. ‘I’m pretty careful about this because I want to be renowned the way they are’. Collaborating with people he actually likes has been tough at times, ‘because money is nice’, but Jason is confident that his approach is the right one long term. For now, expect more new work with Rico Nasty and other large artists to drop soon, alongside fresh solo material from his own music catalogue.