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You may not know his name, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve definitely seen his work. He’s the man responsible for the visual counterparts to Southern smash hits like Future’s “Same Damn Time” and Slim Thug’s “Still Tippin’.”

With an NAACP Image Award and an MTV Video Music Award under his belt, John D. Tucker has every right to be cocky. But refreshingly, he’s the complete opposite. His demeanor is teeming over with humility and a sincere love for personal and worldwide growth. Speaking to him offered up a series of relatable comments, but his wisdom —as a video director and as a human— was inspiring to say the least.

Perception and reality aren’t always the same, according to the music video director and filmmaker. Tucker, also known as Dr. Teeth, has valid thoughts on the nature of millennials and the way they emulate what they understand to be the “American Dream.” He knows the importance of healthy goals, work ethic, and discipline, which are things that young people may lack as they strive towards unrealistic desires.

“There’s so much you gotta know that you aren’t taught in school. Don’t try to be smart by being stupid. We have to know our history”.

When asked how it felt to have music videos introduce nuances of street life to mainstream audiences, he said, “I feel good and bad about it. It’s two-fold. The images we put out sculpted the reality of the millennials who saw them. Millennials are into instant gratification…I grew up during MTV, they grew up during [the bling era]! We saw Puffy being a backup dancer for Doug E. Fresh. The kids see access to wealth.”

He also spoke on some of the fakeness that fuels this generation.

“For me, the director, I knew Slim Thug owned everything [in the “Still Tippin’” video]. For everything else I did, we rented things. Those videos have skewed perception.”

Creative Class - Feature Images - October 2018

Source: Alton Anderson / Creative Services / iOne Digital

The man behind some of hip-hop’s grittiest takes full responsibility for his role in how young people perceive the world. Yet, he actively works to present narratives that are grounded, meaningful, and constructive. His latest work, 2017’s Pas Honteux is an example of his transition.

The Tucker-produced short film is a story of a young Black kid who wakes up one day to discover that he can only speak French. Now, he must learn to communicate with an eccentric, homeless man, see the world from a different perspective and connect with others outside of his social class. Tucker uses his video directing past with modern hip-hop inspired visuals and tinges of French new wave for the perfect blend of storytelling and scenic shots.

Also, Tucker wants to help white people alter their perceptions of Black people. He realized that one of the things that prevents white people from seeing themselves in Black people is the way that the latter are showcased in stories. “When you can personalize [something] or make [it] relatable, you humanize it…I’m hoping to provoke thought.”, he told me. One way that others —specifically Black people— can help him with his vision is by educating themselves.

“There’s so much you gotta know that you aren’t taught in school. Don’t try to be smart by being stupid. We have to know our history”.

He serves as an adjunct photography professor at Houston’s Texas Southern University, so as an educator and creative, Tucker aims to transform the false ideas that have permeated cultures and help people move forward with heightened understanding. He’s fighting the good fight.

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