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Jason Goldwatch Talks Art

Jason Goldwatch-intro

Inheriting his love for everything visual from his artistic father, video director/photographer Jason Goldwatch started making videos at the age of 14, only to find himself working with some of hip-hop's biggest names nearly a decade later. Some of his work includes Common's "1999," Ludacris' "Blueberry Yum Yum," Dilated People's "Worst Comes to Worst," "The Roots "Dear God 2.0." and, most recently, Nas' "Nasty," among a slew of others.

After the release of "Nasty," the first visual for Nas' new upcoming album Life Is Good, on Wednesday ( October 12), the San Francisco-born artist felt the need to expand on some of the images his genius choice for the clip.

Here, JG chats with XXL about some of the imagery featured in "Nasty" and breaks down the relevance of each. Oh Snap! —Amber McKynzie

Jason Goldwatch

"Part of my shit about making videos is trying to go to real places and make it as authentic as possible, and travel as far into whatever we’re doing as possible. With the Jay Electronica shit, we fucking went around the world. We [were] trying to do that when we got to the projects with [Nas’] peeps to set him in with sort of, I mean for lack of better term, the community and figure out who could help us. I needed six kids, and I needed an old homeless person. I needed an old lady, and I needed some kids on bikes. It’s like I got in early and settled in and sort of found the right people. The dude with that tattoo was the guy that ended up sort of being our mayor for the day. He was hooking us up with people and finding kids. And, like, we needed a crackhead. He got us a real crackhead, and he ended up disappearing; but, he was the guy. So, him and I were hanging out just chilling, you know? Nas hadn’t show[n]up yet. [The mayor] was peeping on my tattoos, and I was peeping on his. Eventually, we started taking a couple flicks."

Jason Golwatch-1

"Our art direction or whatever was just something that seemed…A lot of times for me, when I do a video I’m fucking awake at three in the morning. Fucking bong ripped and tripping out. I’m like watching movies on mute, and looking at books and photos. Just tripping out. Trying to get the best shit out of myself. And, I don’t know, somebody had done a piece for the photograph with cups on one of those hurricane events. I was like, “Fuck! That’s right. This looks so dope.’ So, you know, I had the art girl – Literally the night before the shoot – I had the art girls pick up 200 red cups, and then we just settled in and picked a spot on the fence. I didn’t know if we were going to say New York or what the fuck we’re going to do. We were just like, “Yeah, QB would be perfect.” Rest in piece maybe. But, we did Queensbridge, which looks ill."

Jason Goldwatch-2

"He was just some cat around the corner. When you’re a director, you usually work with a director of photography (DP) or a cinematographer. I’ve worked with cinematographers, and also just because my dad’s a photographer I grew up developing the film that I took. I’d go out, take pictures and go develop my own film with my pops. I always frame up my shit tight, and I’m always looking at shapes and just tripping out every frame, you know? So, just in that mindset with being places, going to be standing around and the whole fucking – Some homeless man with his head all cut up. And, I’m like, Damn, that’s a beautiful image. Like, why am I not taking advantage?"

Jason Goldwatch-3

"The day before we shot the video we went out and scouted a location; then we were up in my dukes’ crib where we shot the end of the video. Anyway, [we’re] running through the building and we’re just scouting around, and [Nas’] third verse is where we needed to figure out how to breakdown this building. So, I needed a couple turns. I needed an elevator [and] I needed a couple different looks at this one place. We end up going up to the roof, and that was the view – and the train, every couple of minutes, interrupting. I was just like, “Damn, what a fucking beautiful day.” So, I just knocked a couple off. It came out dope."

Jason Goldwatch-4

"He was just dude. You know? Eventually, once Nas showed up and was sort of getting his look straight we had a little talk. He was maybe five or ten minutes away. A whole group of people – we started placing them on the street. He was just a dude that lived in the neighborhood. He was like the oldest cat when I picked him. He had the cool face. We put him in the wheelchair and wrapped him up in the blankets and took his shoes off, and just put him into the homeless attire. While we were there – like I said, I like to get into places and get real authentic shit and capture that. So, we were sitting there. We had no permits. We had – the laws in New York, if you don’t have speakers for your playback and you don’t have lights on stands or cameras on a tripod, you can shoot anywhere you want. So, the police, sort of came by once and looked at us and drove by real slow. And, I was like, ‘Damn, you know you guys going to fuck up my shot unless you want to be in the thing for the whole time.’ ‘Cause, you now what I mean, we’re going to do this a bunch of times. So they left and then they came back, and I actually walked up to the dude in the wheelchair and took a couple pictures of him, just with the cop parking behind him. He didn’t even know the cop was back there. He made a finger."