#Watchlist: Seun Opabisi & Kewa Oni On Directing Ladipoe’s “Jaiye”

October 18, 2019

For creators, inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places. That’s why we created #Watchlist — a series that asks Nigerian video directors to list the most interesting things that influenced their creative choices while shooting.


Sometime in the near future, people will look back at 2019 and wonder how we paid so little attention to Ladipoe’s “Jaiye”. One of the best written and produced songs of the year, accompanied by a near-perfect music video, it’s downright criminal that this boisterous anthem isn’t a bigger hit.

That being said, it’s a little comforting that the video, directed by Seun Opabisi and Kewa Oni, got some love at the Headies: landing a nod for ‘Best Music Video’. So, we decided to have the duo break down, in great detail, all the influences and choices that led them to such an awe-inspiring final cut.

On main inspiration:

The tone of the song informed all we did with the video. “Jaiye” is a celebration of life and culture, and it was one of those rare moments where every single person was in complete agreement regarding the direction.

There’s an essence to every song, a feeling that you get from listening. When we’re developing music videos, we draw inspiration from that feeling, not necessarily the lyrics — giving us more creative wiggle room.

With “Jaiye”, the feeling you get when you listen to the song is joy. So, we decided to explore that, using Lagos as our backdrop. It was us simply asking, “wherever you’re from, what’s joy to you?”

On intended narrative:

Lagos is a melting pot for different subcultures, all of which are a part of an even larger community of artistic expression. At the core of “Jaiye” was a message telling people to go out there and have the time of their lives. 

So, we wanted to make a video that explored the common ground between these different creators and, at the same time, portrayed how dynamic Lagos is. And we wanted Ladipoe to be the central figure in this narrative.

Our video treatment had a line about Poe being the “conductor” of the movement and, in the final sequence, you see him doing music conductor hand gestures. It’s like, at that moment, he had his fingers on the pulse of the city.

On visual references:

We’re both huge fans of Guy Ritchie and sports campaigns. So, in pre-production, we went through a pool of different TV spots and scenes with fast-paced, high-octane energy and used them as our homework.

We wanted to make something that could be mistaken for a TV commercial, and we were greatly influenced by Guinness ads set in Africa. They tend to portray our culture and lifestyle without resorting to poverty porn.

Nike: Take It To The Next Level

Guinness: The Ticket

Nike: Nothing Beats A Londoner

Guinness: Thierry Henry

On performance references:

A phrase that stuck with us throughout the process was: “Lagos is an attack on your senses”. To enhance that feeling, we knew we wanted Poe and our performers moving around Lagos, showcasing its different sides.

So, one of our priorities was to have Poe performing as he navigated spaces, whether he was on a rooftop or a souped-up vehicle. Our references for his rhythm and performance styles came from other similar music videos.

Devlin — “50 Grand” ft. Skepta

Kwesta — “Spirit” ft. Wale

On casting and styling:

In terms of looks, we wanted: vibrant, stylistic and authentic. Our production designer, Tunji, and stylists, Bubu Ogusi and Stephen Tayo helped us achieve this via the set design and street style outfits.

This also helped inform our casting decisions and location choices. Real footballers, real BMX riders and more. Most of them in the video are performing in the same neighbourhoods they do in real life.

On the oddest influence:

The temperature in Lagos, oddly enough, came into play. So, if you look around the video, there are a lot of references to fire — from the coffin to the body paint on our BMX riders.

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