Bun B, OutKast and More Remember the “International Player’s Anthem” Video Five Years Later
The epic feel good video for UGK's "International Player's Anthem" added to the song's legend. Directed by Bryan Barber, it featured memorable cameos from Three 6 Mafia, T-Pain, Chamillionaire, actor Lukas Haas, Khujo and Big Gipp of Goodie Mob and Fonzworth Bentley, just to name a few. The visual followed the song's script, as a reluctant Three Stacks walks down the isle with his partner-in-rhyme, Big Boi, advising him otherwise. A wedding of epic proportions ensues—complete with an animated T-Pain-lead choir, Pimp C's stuntastic mink and a girl on girl food/fist fight.
Kanye West famously gave his award to UGK after "Stronger" beat "International Player's Anthem" at the 2007 BET Hip Hop Awards. “I looked at Busta and I said, 'Definitely UGK should have won this,'" West said during his acceptance speech. Pimp and Bun won Best Video the following year at the BET Awards. Sadly, Pimp C didn't get to enjoy the spoils. He died on December 4, 2007.
XXL continues to commemorate the song's five-year anniversary with a oral history of the single's classic video.— Carl Chery (@cchery), Ralph Bristout (@RalphXXL) & Calvin Stovall (@CalvinStovall)
Bryan Barber (Video Director): I heard the song. [I’m a] friend of Bun’s. We’d been tryin' to work on a project for a while. He called me and told me about the song, and wanted me to come up with something. I wanted to do a continuation of the “Roses” video. When I heard the opening of the song, Dre’s line, I thought about him getting married. I think Dre’s verse really set it up [for] the direction I wanted to go in with the video.
André 3000: The initial ideas that Bryan and I discussed were simply based around interesting ways to show a marriage scene. I was basically going off of the vibe of the first verse. The setting was pretty much dictated by the beginning of the song. It was clear to me that some kind of wedding scene would work. Funny, I didn’t know it was supposed to be a continuation of the "Roses" concept, but I can see how it could be perceived in that way because some of the recurring characters are really just friends we would call up. Like in the "Roses" video, I thought it would just be cool to have a ragtag group of misfits for my crew, but they are just people I know that come to support and play.
Big Boi: The whole video was just based on Dre getting married. He found the one he wanted to be with, and we was like the bridal party. And then everybody kind of just did they part. So we was talking about experiences with women trying to convince or sway him one way or another. That might be the last video [André] was in. He don’t want to be in another video unless it’s an OutKast video, so until we do that, he don’t wanna just be doing videos with other people.
Bun B: I think a lot of things had a part to play in [André doing the video]. I think the fact that it was UGK and Pimp had just come home from prison played a key part in it. I think the fact that it was an OutKast and UGK record, so that everything wasn’t necessarily on [André's] back played a big part in it. I think the biggest part in them agreeing to do the video was the fact that Bryan Barber was willing to direct it. There is no one else that I think André is probably more comfortable with in front of the camera than he is with than Bryan. He knows Bryan understands the legacy, understands him as a person, knows what he will and won’t do. I basically gave André and Bryan free reign to do whatever video they wanted to do. Bryan’s whole thing was, "Let me pitch it and I can get him to do it." I was like, "If you can get him to do it, you can make whatever fucking video you want. He agreed to do it. I threw some ideas around, they threw some ideas around, but pretty much we decided to go with his idea of the verse and then playing off of that. Him being married and everybody else trying to get him to not do it, we just basically went along with the theme of the song anyway as his verse pertains to it.
Bryan Barber: I mean, Dre’s one of my best friends. Really, man, he understood the historical value of OutKast and UGK being on the screen together. I can’t really take credit for that. It wasn’t like I had to convince him. Dre, he’s a huge fan of Pimp and Bun. And the way that he set the song up with the wedding, I think I pitched it to him, “Yo, I really need you to get married in this shit.” More than that, what he told me, he’s been a fan of UGK before he started really rapping.
André 3000: You have to remember that this song was years ago. Since then I've had different views about my life and my career. Back then it was just how things went. You do the song, then comes the video. So it wasn't a matter of me picking this particular song to be a part of.
Bryan Barber: I based it all off wedding videos. Wedding videos tend to be cheesy right, and not really feel staged. They feel really kind of like, un-put together, so I really wanted to get that feel. I really kind of allowed people. I was trying to capture the dynamic between men and women at a wedding. Women are excited about it. They fight over bouquets and shit. Men do it to kind of please. Not in every case, but in this video’s case. Everybody started drinking at like 1 p.m. I believe they was probably even drinking in the morning in that very first scene. So you got to understand, by midnight, everybody’s live at that point.
Juicy J: Every time you saw us passin' that cup around it was somethin', either Ciroc or somethin', man. Every time we passed it around, it was somethin' in that cup, man.
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The Iconic Introduction Scene
Bun B: It was big for us, we couldn’t think of a time when all three of those groups had ever been in the same room together. Everybody is a big fan of everybody. We are all brothers. We’re peers. We basically came up around the same time, during the same struggle, all working these different clubs in the Chitlin' Circuit. That was 15 years into all of our respective careers and we were all still here, still making money. OutKast having won Grammy of the year, Three 6 Mafia, Oscar winners. It was a very big deal and a very good time. Then you had other people like David Banner was there, T-Pain was there. You had all the different pimps in the building. It was a big deal.
Khujo of Goodie Mob: I don’t think I had ever been in a video with UGK before, but I know Bun B was in our first “Cell Therapy” video. Just to be in the video with UGK, and OutKast—the Southern players of the Southeast region. Just to think of it now, man, that was pretty big. You had Three 6 Mafia, David Banner. We had Chamillionaire in there, so we were in the video around some young Southern kings. Just for it to go down like that and just the message, [it was special].
Bryan Barber: That was magic, man. And the chemistry was great. It was almost like they all went to high school together. Seeing all those dudes together really going in on each other. And also, all the rest of the folks. Chamillionaire and Slim Thug, there was a lot of Southern cats in there.
André 3000: It was pure comedy and just a fun time. Once again, it was about what friends might say when their buddy is making that walk. None of it was scripted. I think we just made it up right then. Did a few takes 'til it was perfected as much as we could and went for it.
Bryan Barber: That was all ad-libs. I mean, we rehearsed a few times, but it was all ad-lib.
Bun B: Nothing was scripted. Everything was ad-libbed in that beginning. It’s funny, if you watch the director’s cut that intro is a lot longer.
Deray Davis: I pretty much knew everybody. That’s what made it comfortable. It felt like somebody’s real wedding. And out of everybody, Andre probably is the closest one who would get married in that fashion with that kind of grouping around him. But I liked it, man. It had that country feel. To be in L.A. and have that kind of country feel—I’m from Chicago, but it just gave something different, man.
Juicy J: The shoot was great everyone came through. Big Boi came in. He had all Louis luggage, and I was like, "Wow!" Everything he had on was Louis. Louis shirt, luggage. T-Pain was there and he showed love. David Banner came through. It was a legendary shoot. Whoever got the behind the scenes, that’s some historical footage right there, 'cause it was crazy. A lot of people came [through] and showed love.
DJ Paul: It was fun, man. I sampled the great Willie Hutch, [may he] rest in piece, and his daughter was there. I got a chance to meet her and tell her about the times that me and Willie Hutch spent together when he was alive and came to Memphis to my studio. All the pimps and players were there, I knew all of them, but hadn’t seen them in a while. It was a good, fun day, man. It was a lot people there and [that] didn’t even get shown.
David Banner: Pimp C was a really, really good friend of mine. Bun is a good friend of mine and he called me and told me to come through. I came through and I can’t really sit up here and give you no type of exquisite story, but when certain people call you, you don’t ask no questions. "I’m on my way right now." Honestly, if I’m correct, I was just coming out of church—because I had a suit and tie on and I don’t just ride around with a suit and tie on—and it was either Bun or Pimp. That was that, man. Those are two of my biggest influences—Kast and UGK. Andre and Pimp and Bun and Big…those are the people in some aspect, whether it’s style, whether it’s lyrics with Bun, whether it’s creativity and lyrics with Andre and Pimp’s belief in the South. Pimp felt the same way I feel about the South. I remember when Pimp said, ‘We ain’t worried about rap, we do country rap tunes.’ At that time, hip-hop wasn’t giving us the respect. For the man to come out and say that and make me feel proud…hearing Pastor Troy…me listening to them is what gave me the fuel to do what I did for Mississippi and I won’t sit up here and tell you no different than that. Andre was the one who taught me it’s okay to be different. As long as you’re dope it doesn’t matter what they say or do. So, to even be asked to be part of something so monumental is dope to me.
Bryan Barber: It was so crazy that that many people came through. We start shooting this, people started showing up, man. Comedians were coming through. It was a few people that came through and I just didn’t have enough time to shoot them. That’s one of those magical moments. I didn’t really know that the video was going to be as big as it was. Those cameos definitely helped push it. I think Snoop was supposed to come at one point. I don’t know what happened with that. I almost didn’t have enough time to shoot Chamillionaire. Slim Thug was there. I didn’t get to shoot Slim Thug. He stayed for a minute. See, I was shooting in a certain order, so by the time I had time to shoot him he had left. There was a few people that came through.
Bun B: T-Pain was the choir director in the wedding. Alex Thomas is in the video. Lukas Haas is also one of the groomsmen; he’s one of Andre’s really good friends. The video kind of had a certain humor, you kind of got to get into acting, but also feel comfortable in the role that you’re playing. So, T-Pain, he has a lot of energy, So I had them give him a choir role 'cause I was going to put them in the audience.
Alex Thomas: Yeah, I was playing the piano and I was one of the background pimps, ’70’s type niggas. I was acting my ass off. The crazy part about that is, that [many] don’t know about me is I grew up in this music industry, in the music business. I grew up with two pianos in my house. My father was probably in the biggest band in all music. It was this little band called Earth, Wind & Fire. My dad was the Wind, of Earth, Wind & Fire. They kind of forced me my whole life, to play instruments, to play the piano and all this shit. Nigga, I ended up not being able to play shit! I told jokes for a living. Jamie Foxx would always tease me about it, like “I know you wished you played that piano now!” Shit, I wish I did.
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Bryan Barber: With the pimps, it’s almost like they were using the wedding to have a meeting point to talk about what their business was for the year. And then the wedding party, they’re gossiping on the table. Some of the guys are talking about women they want to fuck with. And then the women are actually saying, you know she’s been cheating on him. Those were real conversations. They’re in characters so the expressions are really kind of going along with what’s happening in that environment.
Khujo: You had pimps in there, then you had players in there. You had Gs then you had gangstas. It was just a mesh. Black men that came together to make an anthem. Whether people want to agree with it or not. Wasn’t nobody fighting. Didn’t nobody get shot or none of that. Overall, except for my brother, R.I.P., he gone, you know, Pimp C. But, we can always pull that video up and see him in his prime when he damn near just got out. I remember seeing him back there in the trailer with the white suit on with the white fur and the white hat on. That boy was in character right there, man. That boy was in character all day that day, bro. All day.
Bun B: It was ridiculously hot, you got to keep in mind it was even worse for Pimp because he was in a full-length mink coat. That was his thing. He loved to wear mink coats in the summertime. We asked him this when we shot “Big Pimpin’” 'cause he had on a mink coat and Gloria Velez had on a mink coat. It was hot as hell and everybody asked, “Pimp how can you stand out there and rap in a mink coat?” In a life full of classic one liners, this is my favorite thing that he had ever said, “Man, TV ain't got no temperature.” He said, “You’ll see mink coats in the summer and bikinis in the winter 'cause TV ain't got no temperature.” If you ever read these Sports Illustrated the models are always saying they are on the beach and it's 50 degrees and freezing.
Fonzworth Bentley: First of all, it was so disrespectfully luxurious. It was hot, it wasn’t one of those mild L.A. days, it was like hot and this negro had on a white…well he had several minks, first of all. I remember when I first saw him before there were giving me the shoot downstairs and it’s him, Bishop Don Juan, you know all of the players and he had on this mink with the mink hat,
André 3000: I don't know if I was there for that shot. I honestly can't remember. I do remember seeing the coat later on. It was a mean-ass piece. Who cares what the weather was? Ha. If you're cool, you're just cool.
Bryan Barber: I don’t think he was outside that much. But the funny thing about it was, he showed up with this polar bear white mink. I mean, how iconic is that? I think that’s an image that nobody will ever forget about him. It was so devastated that he passed after the video. He really branded himself in that video. He really branded that image. And, he owned it. As iconic as it was to see all those Southern rappers in the movie, in the pimp world it was iconic to see Don Juan, Pimpin Ken.
Pimpin Ken: All the players that came, Bishop Juan and all those guys that were invited, I was the guy who was given an opportunity to get all those players in. Bishop was cool with Pimp too. When we all sit down in the Pimp section of the video, I was the one who told everybody where to sit at, so I kind of facilitated the whole thing. I wanted to put Bishop upfront because I’m the type of brother, I believe in honor and honoring my elders. We put him front and center and then I kind of sat close to Pimp and the rest of the players, they just scattered all about.
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The Girl on Girl Fist/Food Fight
Bun B: It was just hilarious that [the girls] were actually going to that extent. When they were filming that, they were going for it. They were really going for it, throwing the cake at each other and pushing each other. It was one of the last things we shot because when they did that it was a wrap. The cake was a wrap, the set was a wrap, the costumes and hair and all of that. They only had one shot to get that right. A lot of times that kind of thing can look fake and I don’t know what happened in wardrobe but they went for it.
Fonzworth Bentley: They were stunt women. He cast stunt women so the funny thing was, he put me on G, but everyone else really didn’t know. I always want to know stuff, you know I want to know. So he was like, "Yo, check this out and you know how it is, not only is this their art form, but when you got all of these dudes' energy around and the vibe was just right, like they went in." They was literally making contact. For real, for real. Like where you can hear it. Like one of them joints. It was really crazy. And went to the floor still swinging. The whole nine. It was crazy, though.
Bryan Barber: I really wanted [the girls] to go all out, pulling hair and throwing each other into the cake and really get physical and make it feel real. I wanted people to be like, “Awww, man. It’s really happening." I knew that if I would have gotten regular girls to do that, they wouldn’t want to get their hair messy and stuff. I don’t think anybody saw it coming. It’s like a mini movie really.
The BET Awards
Bryan Barber: You know, we actually won twice. The first time was at the Hip Hop Awards. At the Hip Hop awards, we in a category with Kanye. Kanye had won, but while on stage Kanye called us up. Like, "Really man, Bryan Barber, Big Boi, UGK, they won this award. Come on up and get the award," which I thought was big of Kanye. He’s not a guy who really does anything to make people happy necessarily. He does things he believes in. Kanye passed it to us, but BET didn’t give it to us. The following year at the BET Awards, we won. That was interesting.
André 3000: Happy I was a part of it. And really happy for UGK. It was a good look.
Bun B: It was bittersweet, a lot of these accolades came after [Pimp C] passing away. It was [because of] his hard work and perseverance that a lot of these things came into fruition. One thing he wanted was that BET acknowledgment, from his peers and the Grammy association all of those type of things. One thing people don’t realize is Pimp C was really a musician and he produced a lot of great music for a lot of people including ourselves. I never felt he got his just due as a producer, musician, composer, arranger. Pimp C did all of these things and more. He was a singer, he did everything, he put the order of the album together. Even when we lost to Kanye, Kanye was like, “I don’t want to accept this award because this goes to UGK and OutKast 'cause they had the best video.” That’s how he honestly felt and that’s why when everybody kind of shitted on him for the Taylor Swift comments, I said, "That dude meant that." It was beautiful. I just really hate that he wasn’t able to be there in the physical form.
Bryan Barber: The way it all worked is that I had to talk in order to allow Bun enough time to get on stage. By the time he gets there, it looks like I’ve been talking a long time. So apparently Jay-Z made a comment about that, which I didn’t appreciate. I had to talk to Bun, like, “Yo, did you feel disrespected?” He was like, “Nah." I don’t even know where that comment came from. Honestly, I think it was a misunderstanding. But, you know, we got past that. Me and Jay is cool now. At the BET Hip Hop Awards, if Kanye had not recognized the video, I don’t believe we would have gotten an award. When Kanye gave us the award, the whole room lit up. And I think that BET was like, “Oh, we should have gave them an award.” And then they came back and did it.