How Justin Bieber Came To Star In DJ Khaled And Drake's 'Popstar' Video

The video had almost an entirely Canadian creative team.

When DJ Khaled and Drake dropped their new music video ‘Popstar,’ fans went wild to see Justin Bieber as the star.

The unexpected collaboration came about thanks to the video’s director, Director X.

The frequent Drake collaborator and co-founder of the new production company, Fela, worked with Bieber on his ‘Boyfriend’ music video 10 years ago.

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Director X (real name Julien Christian Lutz) and Fela’s other co-founder, Taj Critchlow, talked to eTalk’s Tyrone Edwards and opened up on just how the trippy, star-studded video came to be.

“We’ve been working on that whole project for a long time — from before quarantine,” Director X said. “Drake was going back and forth with ideas and the way Drake and I work — sometimes he’ll know an idea and actually have scenes laid out and sometimes he just has an idea.

“This is one of those times where he was just like, ‘What if it’s Bieber? And Bieber is me?’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ And then I go in and sometimes it’s sort of like I’m the chef so then I go and I chef up the meal. Drake had it in his mind that the intro was Khaled and this wave of videos… and then he was like, ‘Oh man, I gotta call in a favor.’ And then from there I had to go figure [the rest of it] out.”

The project was also a way for the 26-year-old to make a statement that he has shed his bad boy pop star persona since settling down with wife Hailey Bieber.

“He needed to let the world know he had let that life go,” X explained. “It was very serendipitous. Really, that’s what that’s about at the end. That big ‘Sigh. I love you, babe’ [to Hailey] — that’s a sigh of relief, like, ‘I’m out of that life.’ The subtext is ‘That’s not me and I’m so happy to be with you and walking the dog.'”

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The eight-minute visual offering was the first project for Fela. Only a couple months old, Critchlow says the company — which has a mandate to use their “innate ability to tell cultural stories authentically while being a voice for the unheard and underrepresented” — was “birthed out of the revolution.”

“With this mobilization of Black entrepreneurs and X and I being industry leaders, we felt it was only right that we step out fully independent with no partners and be in control of our destination,” he said. “Which means having stake equity in our culture… Look what happened to [Colin] Kaepernick — he got kicked out of the league for standing up for his rights and if there was Black ownership of a football team, he wouldn’t be kicked off a team right now.”

Director X added that specifically in the Toronto media scene, there’s an overwhelming lack of diversity.

“Toronto still has a very real issue with the whiteness of its commercial film and television industry. It’s a big issue,” he said. “It’s a big issue getting people of color on set, it’s a very big issue getting them in the board rooms… those writers rooms really need some help. I’m very grateful for the people that said ‘Yo, we’re going to back you guys up,’ but there comes a time where you gotta fly free. There comes a time where it’s more than just being executives and we start getting into ownership.”

The ‘Popstar’ video was the result of almost an entirely Canadian creative team. Bieber is a native of London, Ontario, while Drake is from Toronto.

 

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