Dezeen Magazine

Ruffmercy collages archive footage of J Dilla for The Sickness music video

Music: Bristol-based director Ruffmercy has combined archive footage of J Dilla with hand-drawn animation in the music video for the late American rapper's most recent posthumous track The Sickness (+ movie).

The track – which features fellow American rapper Nas – was cut by prolific producer Madlib and features on J Dilla's album The Diary, released in April 2016.

The Sickness by J Dilla feat Nas – music video by Ruffmercy

Ruffmercy – who previously directed a Basquiat-inspired music video for Young Thug, Freddie Gibbs and A$AP Ferg – was originally approached by Nas' record label Mass Appeal to make a short animated film explaining the album's background. He instead ended up creating a video to accompany the Sickness single.

"Peter Bittenbender, Mass Appeal's co-owner, and label manager Amit Nerurkar know my work pretty well as I have made several videos for them before," he told Dezeen.

"They are aware that I make a lot of my videos from experimenting along the way, but we agreed upfront that it would be collage-based and would feature hand-drawn animation."

The Sickness by J Dilla feat Nas – music video by Ruffmercy

"A definite was that we knew we could film Nas, but when we started we weren't sure if we could get hold of any J Dilla footage as he passed away in 2006 and there's not much footage of him around," he continued.

The footage Ruffmercy did acquire was from around 2003 to 2004 – meaning that the resolution was a great deal lower than today's formats.

The Sickness by J Dilla feat Nas – music video by Ruffmercy

"After waiting a week to combine this footage with the Nas part of the video, my heart sank at first when seeing its size and quality," he said.

After considering whether he would be able to use it at all, he realised that viewers would not care the footage was "grainy and grimy".

"Ultimately everybody would know that this is old archive footage and appreciate it for what it was, previously unseen footage of one of hip hop's greatest producers," he added.

"I felt blessed that Amit from Mass Appeal managed to acquire it."

The Sickness by J Dilla feat Nas – music video by Ruffmercy

Ruffmercy based his edit on the "glitchy layered-up craziness" of the track, and aimed to make a visual equivalent.

To produce the collaged effect, he created animated drawings in Photoshop before exporting them as movies. He then pulled all the footage and animations into After Effects, where it was colour graded and layered up.

The Sickness by J Dilla feat Nas – music video by Ruffmercy

"For the first half of the track when it's J Dilla rapping, I feel like it's all about him, celebrating his life and letting the viewer think about what a legend he is," he said.

"For Nas' part I wanted to reinforce the lyrics here and there, not too much but just enough for it to subconsciously dig in."

"It was quite a crazy start as we didn't know exactly what the end product would be, but with the help of all involved we pulled it off," he added.

The Sickness is out now on Mass Appeal records and is available to purchase through iTunes.