The concept for Snoop Dogg's new video for "Lavender" (Nightfall Remix) -- named after the original BADBADNOTGOOD collaboration featuring Kaytranada -- came to its director, YouTube star Jesse Wellens, during a smoking session.
Sharing the same manager, the PrankvsPrank sensation and the West Coast rap legend were working the same video game event last October. Smoking was not permitted indoors, so the two lit up in the rapper's Sprinter van as Wellens pitched his idea. It included Resident Evil dogs, clowns, a commercial for the faux Snoop Loops cereal, and a timely concept inspired by Philando Castile -- the Falcon Heights man who was fatally shot by cops at a traffic stop last July, as seen in the heartbreaking video his girlfriend recorded and posted online.
Snoop had promised a song that night, but three days later, sent Wellens his take on "Lavender," which features him targeting police brutality with lines like, "Trying to keep from dying in these muthaf--kin' streets/ F--k the police/ From a black man's point of view."
Snoop, who stumbled upon the BADBADNOTGOOD track after his A&R, Frank Vasquez, had loaded the band's IV record into his iTunes, said Wellens' concept and the beat inspired him to express his thoughts candidly. "I had never had a song like that, so when I got back to the studio, I started skimming through beats, and that particular beat just seemed on the same page to get me going, so I wrote the whole song [to it]," explains the rapper.
The "Lavender" remix was released Sunday (March 12) via Innovative Leisure, BADBADNOTGOOD's label. It is also available on vinyl, with artwork by Joe Cool. Snoop says it will be on his forthcoming album, the follow-up to 2016's Coolaid. "That record will be a part of my new album that I just finished. It's called Never Left and it should be out [soon], maybe in May."
BADBADNOTGOOD's Leland Whitty said the group, who was not involved creatively with the video, found out about Snoop's co-sign via Instagram. "I woke up one morning. Alex [Sowinski] had sent me the Instagram video and I was like, 'This is crazy. Snoop Dogg's probably one of the first rappers I ever listened to,'" he recalled. "It's cool [for Snoop] to just turn something we didn't have any emotional connection to and [associate it] with something so relevant right now ... It kind of sounds like he's rapping the way that he would in the '90s, and it brings out a lot of things that I haven't really heard in a lot of his more recent music. So that was really neat, too."
The video, which dropped March 12 on Wellens' Prankvsprank YouTube page and was co-helmed by esteemed music video director James DeFina, also features a parody clown version of president Donald Trump named Ronald Klump. The clip is a satirical look at current events, with Clown-in-Chief Klump even holding a press conference to announce the deportation of all dogs. Actor Michael Rapaport steps in as the father (also a clown), who smokes weed to alleviate his stress, and is ultimately shot dead with a glitter gun by clown cops.
"I just had been seeing this go on in the world politically, and I actually was a cop for six years in the military, so I can kind of see it from the cop's point of view too," explains Wellens. "When I originally wrote the idea of the video, the video of [Philando Castile] getting shot came out online and it was causing riots. We just kind of wanted to bring the clowns out, because it's clownery -- it's ridiculous what's happening."
He adds, "As America, it just doesn't seem like we're very respected right now."
Snoop Dogg echoes the same sentiment. Last July, he and fellow West Coast MC The Game led a peaceful march to the Los Angeles Police Department to spark dialog in the midst of the violent sniper shootings that took place in Dallas. Those shootings occurred during a protest in response to the deaths of Castile and Alton Sterling, a man who died in Baton Rouge in a police-related killing.
When asked what was going through his mind as he wrote the song, Snoop says he was "making a song that was not controversial but real -- real to the voice of the people who don't have a voice. It's not like [Jesse] told me to make a record to express what I'm expressing on the song, but there were certain things that he said that brought that feeling, to make me want to express that when I was writing."
Snoop continues, "The whole world is clownin' around, and [Jesse's] concept is so right on point with the art direction and the reality, because if you really look at some of these motherf--kers, they are clowns."
He also runs through his list of grievances with the president: "The ban that this motherf--ker tried to put up; him winning the presidency; police being able to kill motherf--kers and get away with it; people being in jail for weed for 20, 30 years and motherf--kers that's not black on the streets making money off of it -- but if you got color or ethnicity connected to your name, you've been wrongfully accused or locked up for it, and then you watching people not of color position themselves to get millions and billions off of it. It's a lot of clown sh-t going on that we could just sit and talk on the phone all day about, but it's a few issues that we really wanted to lock into [for the video] like police, the president and just life in general."
In the video's climactic scene, Snoop Dogg pulls out a fake gun and aims it at Parody Trump. Though it may be controversial to some critics, the hip-hop legend says he's not looking for any response from America or Trump himself for the video.
"When I be putting shit out, I don't ever expect or look for a reaction. I just put it out because I feel like it's something that's missing. Any time I drop something, I'm trying to fill in a void," he says. "I feel like it's a lot of people making cool records, having fun, partying, but nobody's dealing with the real issue with this f--king clown as president, and the shit that we dealing with out here, so I wanted to take time out to push pause on a party record and make one of these records for the time being."
Wellens adds that he's proud of what he and Snoop were able to accomplish. "When I watch it against other music videos, this one has a message and a story. It looks like a film. I'm just proud of the entire piece altogether."
Watch the "Lavender" video below.