On Tuesday night, fans got another teaser for one of the most anticipated album releases in quite some time. No, it wasn’t new music, unfortunately (we got that with "That Way" on Sunday). But Lil Uzi Vert dropped an official short film for Eternal Atake titled BabyPluto, which thankfully means maybe his recent proclamation that the album is finally coming might actually be factual after all.
The wild visuals see two different Uzis, one in a full Prada suit who stumbles upon a crashed UFO in a deserted country pasture occupied by a legion of women in purple and blue robes and the other in a backwards Just Don snapback, tie-dye T-shirt, and a medley of custom diamond necklaces, including a pendant from Eliantte & Co. more akin to the Philadelphia rapper’s signature style who is beamed up into a UFO to close out the trailer as "Futsal Shuffle" begins to play (the image is similar to an initial leak of the EA cover art that surfaced a few months ago).
These scenes that look like they were ripped from an upcoming sci-fi movie were co-directed by 23-year-old Gibson Hazard, a budding young creative who has already worked on projects with everyone from Drake to Nike. And he’s just getting started.
Hazard is probably best known for his work on Drake’s Aubrey and the Three Amigos world tour in 2018, a six-week-long task he said was so exhausting he thought he was going to die. He helped produce the graphics, as well as a trailer that showed off a giant scorpion stomping across the Hollywood hills and a yellow Ferrari, the same that hung above the stage during every show, crashing into the Staples Center. Later that year, he brought his immersive and unorthodox special effects editing to an NFL spot for Nike that was soundtracked by Travis Scott’s anthem “Sicko Mode.” It featured superstars like Odell Beckham Jr. crumbling from a statue and All-Pro Khalil Mack running through the wall in a locker room full of grizzly bears. It was Hazard’s first time directing an entire spot—up until then he was typically editing pre-recorded footage. Uzi’s latest work is another first for the 23-year-old, a challenge he happily accepted.
“I haven't done an album trailer before. This is the second video I've done with a real set and a real budget and stuff like that. I'm used to doing all of this myself pretty much. It was definitely a whole new experience. But, it was mad cool.”
Of his most recent work for the Eternal Atake short film BabyPluto, Hazard said linking with Uzi was very organic. The rapper came across a recap video of his set from the Day and Night festival in 2017, and told his manager to get in contact with Hazard about future work. Uzi took to Twitter earlier today to further tease the video’s release, while mislabeling the director as former NBA guard Daniel Gibson, he says the mini movie tells the story of Baby Pluto, a character Uzi has been championing on social media for the past week or so.
Hazard says Uzi was very involved in forming the idea and he just ran with the theme. Given Uzi’s heavy inspiration from the infamous Heaven’s Gate cult for his new album, Hazard chose to incorporate a lot of imagery akin to ‘70s and ‘80s sci-fi pop culture references like ET and the extraterrestrial folklore surrounding the Easter Islands, the setting of the roughly two-minute spot. Following the short film's release, Hazard also made it known he had "directed" the cover art for Eternal Atake as well that the rapper allowed fans to vote on earlier the same day via a Twitter poll.
“The ultimate goal was just to build out a really specific visual world for the album to live in. I want to make shit that absolutely fucks people up, and blows their minds and just make them want to throw their phones after watching it, because it's so crazy,” Hazard tells Complex. “I've been really inspired by the idea of movie trailers recently. I always feel like I'm wasting time watching movies because they're so slow. I like trailers much more because the goal is to put as much crazy shit as you can in a short amount of time which I really like, and I really connect with.”
To no one’s surprise, the man who blessed our Instagram timelines throughout 2019 with countless fit pics styled himself in the video as well.
“Seeing [Uzi] on set the first day was just so wild. He always just decides what he's going to wear. I don't think anybody anywhere can tell him what to wear. It just felt like a whole new character he really created for this video. And I guess ultimately for the album.”
Hazard might not be a household name just yet, but he is certainly on the proper trajectory given his recent string of work. His path to working with industry heavyweights like Drake and Uzi isn’t exactly what you might think, though. He started taking concert photos at a local venue called The Middle East while attending high school in Boston after a Tommy John surgery put a stop to his baseball playing career. His love for photography stemmed from randomly taking an elective course in high school in hopes of getting an easy A stamped on his report card. Sammy Adams, a highly-touted member of the beer chugging, basketball jersey wearing “frat rap” genre, gave him his first cosign when he posted one of his concert photos on his Instagram page. He’d go on to attend Chapman University in Orange, California, where he would snap photos of random opening acts at a local venue so he could sell posters on eBay without getting hit with cease and desists from the artists’ managers.
“They were trash and they didn't sell. But I ended up just falling in love with concert photography. I went to Chapman University for two months and then I dropped out. The photography thing wasn't going that well. I realized I had to make a change, and video was that change.”
A shift to video seems to have been the right choice for Hazard. Even if you are not familiar with the name, you’ve surely have seen his unique, at times jarring, visual style that blends real shots with 3D renderings of everything from great white sharks to performers jumping from burning buildings that often have you questioning how he created them. He started off documenting live shows with names like Future, The Weeknd, Billie Eilish, and Lil Pump. The frantic pace was something he quickly took a liking to.
“I had to finish a video pretty much every night for a while. Every single night I was making new videos, and I just liked the way I worked. I can't work on something if it doesn't feel like a new level for me,” Hazard tells Complex. “My goal was always to outdo the previous night.”
When asked what his job title is, Hazard is not quite sure what box to put himself in. In a short amount of time, his work has encompassed many different things. He says he never feels comfortable where he is, that his boredom is constantly causing him to explore new methods of creation.
“I started as a graphic designer, a shitty graphic designer. And then I was a photographer, and then I was a tour documentarian, pretty much. And then I became this crazy video editor. And then I became essentially a 3D artist and then I started directing stuff. So it’s crazy.”
As his career continues to grow, Hazard hopes to collaborate with more artists. Names like Virgil Abloh, Spike Jonze, and Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennett are mentioned. He compares it to the music world, saying they “figured it out” when it comes to collaborating and hopes visual artists begin to do the same moving forward instead of being so competitive. He wants to produce more grandiose projects similar to his recent work with roommate Jack Bannon, Diddy’s current videographer, documenting the mogul’s 50th birthday celebration at his mansion. Hazard says the nine-day process was arduous and he didn’t sleep, but it brought him back to a time he was shooting video with Future in Miami strip clubs until 7 a.m.
The young creative duo also came together last month to create a touching tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna featuring original music by Dr. Dre that aired on TNT during its NBA All-Star Game pregame programming, the biggest stage that Hazard’s work has been displayed on to date. In the fast-paced world of social media, many creatives feel like they need to constantly serve up new content. Hazard has taken an opposite approach, putting maximum effort into larger work.
“I'm really just focused on creating the best shit ever, because I have seen what happens when you take your time to perfect it. People can tell,” he says. “There was no Virgil before Virgil. Virgil isn't somebody’s 2.0. Virgil Abloh is Virgil Abloh. That's the same with all those guys that I mentioned. They all are very individual and they all created a lane that wasn't there before. That's what I'm trying to do. I don’t want to be the next, I want to be the first.”