In the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, Director X’s stamp was all over your favorite music videos. Whether he made you whine with Sean Paul’s catalog or emote with Usher, Director X is certainly a staple within the culture.
As a man who’s had a few names throughout his journey—Little X, X and now Director X—the list of names he’s worked with is much longer: Jay Z, Mystikal, Usher, Aaliyah, Kanye West, Drake, Rihanna and more.
Born Julien Christian Lutz, Director X is a protégé of iconic music video director Hype Williams and has since passed that knowledge on to up-and-coming music video director Karena Evans (she directed Drake’s popular “God’s Plan” video). I first noticed the Toronto native as the cute guy behind some of the flyest music videos in the game and I just kept seeing his name pop up.
Videos like Sean Paul’s “I’m Still In Love With You” and Rihanna’s “Work” made anybody with warm blood want to be posted up in the corner of a bashment while they grind on their lover because Director X made it look so damn good. I mention these videos because I definitely see a common theme of “love” in his work, and it connects with his newest project, Black Love Is, a short film in partnership with Tinder. According to the press release obtained by The Root, the short film “features authentic first-person accounts and intimate reflections that explore the nuanced understanding and expression of Black Love — love for ourselves and one another as well as community, culture, family, sexuality and Blackness.”
As such, I sat down with the director and asked how black love inspires his work.
“I’ve always thought it’s important to show different kinds of relationships,” Director X told The Root. “Back in the day, I [was] the director that people would say, ‘Oh, you show dark-skinned women. You have dark-skinned women in your videos, I know who you are—Little X.’ I think that was always important to [show] some range. I remember growing up, the world, when it came to TV, was dark-skinned men and light-skinned women. That’s what you got! Yep. [With this project, we felt that we] should show some of that variation.”
Additionally, I figured that since love and hip-hop are so intertwined, I had to ask him the ultimate question from Brown Sugar: When did you fall in love with hip-hop?
“Oh, Run D.M.C., Raising Hell album,” the director replied, without hesitation.
As for Black Love Is, Director X describes it as “something you’d see in a modern art museum.”
“I mean, the visuals—you haven’t seen this before,” he told The Root. “This is not how things are presented. But at the same time, you know it, you could handle it. It actually works for the culture, works for where we are as a society and how we consume information—our ability to take in a lot of information at once. Working with that technology and using that as a storytelling tool to play with and make art.”
“In casting and speaking with real people about what Black love means to them, we found that each person has their own unique experience in how being Black converges with their understanding of love itself—connections to home, to family, to sexuality and to how we present to each other and the world,” Director X said later during the Q&A moderated by Raquel “Rocky” Harris. “It was beautiful to see how varied and nuanced the Black community really is—how our expressions of love are tinted through our culture. It is exciting to know that these stories, with all their vulnerability and tenderness, will be seen far and wide. They represent a present I am proud to live in.”
You can check out the full film, Black Love Is below: