Plus One: Eif Rivera
Title: Music Video Director
Words Miranda Johnson

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of XXL Magazine.

Eif Rivera has carefully crafted himself into one of the current go-to video directors in hip-hop, but funny enough, he didn’t start out that way. Originally an illustrator, the Bronx native began his journey in hip-hop doing artwork for neighborhood friend Fat Joe and his Terror Squad Crew, creating the famous Air Pun logo. Rivera’s next big look was making Jeezy’s Snowman logo.

In 2011, Rivera decided to branch out and directed his first video, for Lord Tariq’s “Pop Off.” The newly minted lensman soon linked up with Fat Joe again and became Joey Crack’s go-to video guy, shooting Joe's clip for “Welcome To The Darkside” featuring French Montana later that year. With his name bubbling, Rivera then crossed paths with 50 Cent and shot the video for Fif’s “Niggas Be Schemin’” featuring Kidd Kidd. Over the next two years Rivera collaborated with 50 on over 20 videos (most recently G-Unit’s “Watch Me” and 50’s “You Know”) while also working with artists such as Diddy, Meek Mill and Lil Wayne. XXL caught up with Eif Rivera on his 4-year music video takeover.

ON BUILDING YOUR PORTFOLIO
Eif Rivera: Eventually other people will take notice [of your work] and those people come knocking on your door, wanting you to do the same thing for them. That’s when you start building. It’s just building blocks. You take the artist and use them as building blocks until you get to a point where you feel that you’ve made it.

ON KNOWING THE CULTURE YOU COVER
Eif Rivera: If you’re not feeling it like [directors] are supposed to feel it, like the culture feels it, then [rappers are] not going to want to rock out with you too much. I grew up in the South Bronx, I was there from the ’80s and what not, so I know hip-hop. I know the music. So when I vibe with the artists, we’re on the same page.

ON BEING IN CONTROL OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Eif Rivera: No fear. You’ve just got to control the situation. A lot of these artists know what they want and a lot of them don’t know what they want. A lot of them have been doing it for a long time and they’re looking for something new and different. You have to convince them. You have to believe in yourself, first of all. Then, you’ve got to convince them. If you’re scared to step to an artist, then this ain’t for you because you’re in control.

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTORS
Eif Rivera: If you really want something, you’ve got to be willing to lose something. There’s something you’re going to lose because you have to go hard in that particular category. If it’s video directing that you want to do, then be ready to lose time, which is most important. Especially if you’re an editor, you’re going to lose a lot of time with family and friends. Just try to have those that you love understand what you’re doing and just hope that they’re there for you at the end of the day. —Miranda Johnson

Related: Eif Rivera Is Hip-Hop’s Favorite Music Video Director
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