Director Explains Why BlocBoy JB and Drake's "Look Alive" Video Means So Much to Memphis

BlocBoy JB's director Frederick Ali spoke about how the video came together.

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Back in February, Drake gave buzzing Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB a huge lift when he jumped on his "Look Alive" single.​ But the moment was about more than just the music. Drake made sure the song was released with an authentically Memphis video, directed by BlocBoy's go-to man behind the camera: Frederick Ali​.

Ali recently sat down with Genius to explain how the video came together—and specifically, why it's so important to his city.

Ten minutes after hearing the news from BlocBoy about the collaboration, Ali received a call from Drake himself, who explained that he wanted Ali to direct it. "In my head, I'm like, 'Me?'" Ali remembers. "Alright, let's get it."

When Drake arrived, he made sure Ali and BlocBoy's team were in charge, so they would come up with an authentic representation of Memphis.

"The way this video actually embodied the song—this was the inner-city of Memphis, which people don't normally get to see," Ali tells Genius. "Drake wanted us to pick out the spots that signified a lot to us. What we didn't want to do was do the generic Memphis places. We didn't go to any tourist spots."

He says they made a point to go to all the most meaningful places in town. They gathered shots of local staples like Shelby Drive and Southland Mall, before heading to Penny Hardaway's gym to film the video's famous dancing scenes.

Ali admits that he could barely hold it together when Drake started doing BlocBoy's viral "shoot dance." He remembers, "Him doing the shoot dance—in my head we kind of figured he was going to pop it out. I was behind the camera crying laughing because he was actually doing it. Then he even threw in the 'Hotline Bling' move with it. I was like, 'Okay, he actually practiced this move.'"

From there, they went to Club Love, FedExForum, and eventually the neighborhood where BlocBoy grew up. Ali explains that the video is so important to the city because every part of it was authentic to it—down to everyone working on the project behind the scenes. Drake let them do their thing.

"Some people might just hear a cool feature and everything, but people in Memphis know—and even a lot of people outside Memphis understand when they saw the video—this meant a lot to the city," Ali notes. "For them to actually use Memphis people to do the video, and the producer from Memphis, Tay-Keith, everything about this whole thing was Memphis verified."

It worked. The video already has over 100,000,000 views. Watch the making of video above and the final product below.

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