Last year, Sheck Wes experienced a fast rise to fame after dropping his debut album MUDBOY. Since then, he's been busy working the fashion circuit by curating Nike's Inaugural NYC Editions Program and being the face of GUESS and Infinite Archives’ collaborative campaign among other things. But last night, the rapper got put on blast online over a video that Ridge Production posted on their YouTube channel.
Apparently, the California-based media strategy agency was told that the rapper didn't like the video that they shot for "MUDBOY" a few months ago. From there, they stopped hearing from him and Universal Music entirely. After weeks of not hearing back about receiving payment for their work, Ridge Production got the last laugh by posting the video anyway which resulted in receiving a cease and desist letter from the label lawyers. The production company initially cooperated by removing the video, but founder Pat Ridge decided to upload an altered version that included new screenshots of messages exchanged between him and Wes on Instagram.
Highsnobiety recently spoke with Ridge on the phone to find out more about what happened with Wes and why he took the legal risk by speaking out on his platforms. We also reached out to Wes' representatives for a statement, but they were not available for comment prior to publishing this story. Scroll down to read our exclusive interview with Ridge about the whole ordeal.
So tell me about this video you shot with Sheck Wes.
The first video we posted last night, it got taken down by Universal, but I explain in the beginning of the video how we have a Travis who used to work for Young and the Reckless, and now he's working with Black Bear, and he saw that Sheck posted on Instagram "I need a video," so he hit us up. We're kind of just a bunch of kids with a RED, and we're working and doing really well, but we're down to just make it happen. So he hit me up like "Sheck needs a video," I grabbed the crew and the RED like "We're down, let's go. What do you wanna do?" He shows up at my house six or seven hours later with seven guys in army fatigues and paintball guns, and they start spray painting the paintball guns and shooting off pellets in my backyard. I let them in my house and shit...
A big part of this whole story for me is the fact that I was in a band, I used to be an artist, I've gone on tour on the world. I'm a nice person, I'm grateful, I say thank you. Especially if someone rallies the troops, they've accomplished a miracle day of which is what we did. We crushed it. I live in a town called Agora Hills, and it's kind of a rural suburban town. We got 10 guys with guns out in front of my house--they're not real guns, but if the neighbors saw... Then we go to Malibu and we're shooting without a permit. I got six guys with me and then it starts to get dark because he showed up super late so we're waiting and fighting the sun.
By the time he got here it was already six hours left in the day, and we ended up doing a second day anyways. So we have the generator, it's getting dark. So we get the generator, we get the lights, and we're on the side of the road filming that Jeep shot with no permit. If the cops came by, saw a bunch of dudes with guns, a fucking generator, and lights, they'd be like, "What are you guys doing?" I'm the one at risk... This is stuff that I didn't really talk about with them. This is just me just trying to make it happen for him. He just wasn't a nice dude. I don't really want to talk shit or anything, but that was a big takeaway for me. It really didn't have anything to do with what I did.
So why did you decide to post the video?
I did what I did because the management and label fully ghosted us as soon as they found out he didn't like the video which is all good, don't post the video, but at least give us the small amount of money that we're requesting. We agreed to do the video for four grand which is crazy. The last video we did was 50 grand. Because he's Sheck Wes and he's poppin' we were like "It'll be cool, that's a good look. So as long as we don't lose money, we're all good." So they just ghost us, we don't hear from them, we're sitting on this video for however many months it'd been since we shot it, and I'm like, "Dude, we're stoked on this video." Had I known that it was gonna go how it went last night... I literally woke up to 200,000 views, people blowing up my Instagram, and every friend I had celebrating the injustice of this.
It's a David and Goliath scenario where Universal can do whatever the fuck they want and Sheck can do whatever the fuck he wants, but people should get paid for their work. Sheck and I were talking back and forth last night, and he should've just been like "Oh shit, you guys didn't get paid? Let me try to figure that out tomorrow. Can you guys just delete the video?" I'm a video artist, but I was in music so I get it. I'm not trying to be vindictive, I'm really not.
To be totally transparent, I'm sober 13 years, I work a program, and I talked to my sponsor before I did all this shit. I'm not trying to be a bad person, I'm really not. I talked to a bunch of people before I did this, and this shit isn't right. I'm trying to flip this dude up. We went so hard, no other company could have done what we did in the time that we did it. That's kind of what we specialize in, day of edits. We're shooting and editing at the day of the event, and we're making multiple Instagram videos for the client... We go hard.
I consider us the modern day response to this Internet culture because a lot of production companies that have this old-school way of thinking where they need to do the pre-production meeting, and there's the AC and the DPD, it's just all this fucking bullshit that basically is preventing them from doing shit in a quick way. My phone is blowing up right now. I have a bunch of friends that are in this industry, and they're just like, "Dude, it's the best thing ever, what you did." I don't think like a video guy, I think like a artist.
What exactly did Sheck say when he finally reached out to you?
He hit me up kinda pissed off like “Fuck that, take that shit down.” He said something like, "That was fucked up." And I'm like, "Yo, dudes not getting paid for their work is fucked up too." And he's like, "If you saw how hard motherfuckers working out here, you wouldn't have done that." And I'm like, "Dude, so basically what you're saying is we don't work hard too?" I could make an argument that we work harder, but then I said "We never got paid." And he said, "Paid for what?"
Either you're stupid, you don't understand, or you just don't care. Paid for what? Paid for what? You think this shit just happens? I get you don't like the video, but it still took work to make it. Then I went on to describe to him what we should have been paid for—six guys, all our lights, my RED, a $60,000 camera with all my lenses, the generator, I have a 15 passenger van that we brought out with the whole crew... You think that's all just free? You think we're down to do that for free for the almighty Sheck West? I got better shit to do.
So his response, it reminded me of what it was like to shoot the video with him. It's all about him, and he's not even thinking about anyone but himself and all the work he's done. I get it, I remember what it was like when I was trying to come up as an artist, but I never would not be a nice person to a director. He's claiming that we didn't hit him up, but honestly bro, if you don't know what's going on in your team and you don't know that your team is ghosting people that you work with... He personally worked on this and he told them he didn't like it.
I'm not buying the fact that he didn't know what went down. Honestly, even if you didn't know, that's almost still as bad on top of the fact that once you find out, now you have the chance to either make it right or do what he did which is talk more shit. So it's all good. This is 2019, it feels like a joke so we're just having some fun. I'm not trying to be like, "Actually, fuck 'Mo Bamba.'"
So what are you hoping will be the outcome of all of this now that you've spoken your truth and put this info out there in the video? What do you want to happen from this?
I don't really need anything to happen. I'm good, I'm stoked, I'm super grateful to have a company, and we're doing good. I just like to have fun. We have a whole series called Inside Rage and I do a podcast called The Ridge Podcasts... Last night I got some real traction by being authentic, doing what I believe, not succumbing to the fear of Universal these corporations. There was a lot of fear in what I did, it was kind of scary. This dude chained me up last night, I wake up to a cease and desist from a lawyer, and I'm talking to you right now not knowing, are we going to get in trouble? I don't fucking know.
I really like that question, what do you hope to gain from all this? It's hard to answer that, but I guess for lack of a better word, more of what we're doing. More eyes on what it is that we're doing because we're not just creating content for other people. We're trying to build our own platform, and we have a lot to say. I have a lot of artists on my team, and we're having fun, but we should be getting paid for our work. We're all very talented, and I really believe in my guys, I value them. I wish that these artists value that too, and I'm sure a lot of them do. Sheck Wes has a lot to learn, and I think that this situation is going to bring some humility into his life, which is something that he could benefit from greatly.
Coming from the other end as a journalist, it's so important to be able to use these platforms to be transparent and for the truth to be out there. Creatives not getting paid by clients for their work is so common, but people are scared to talk about it.
Yeah, that's a big thing for me. It might sound weird, but it's either love or fear. If I'm in fear, I can't be my best self and I can't be transparent. As weird as it is to say, I have an overwhelming amount of love and gratitude for the life that I get to live. That's what inspired me to be fearless in this scenario, and in every scenario. Because trust me, this isn't the first time I've done something that could have hurt our company in a major way. I've always lived on the edge, and it's definitely made us popular and exciting. People want to keep coming back to our page, and they want to keep watching our stories because what are they going to do next?
Film and movies, that art form is the most powerful medium in the world, and it really does have the power to change. I think that our society right now is super polarized. There's something really fucked up happening where people can't have any dialogue or communicate, there's too much anger, and we need more understanding. I think through film, transparency online, and open-mindedness, we can actually try to heal and understand each other. It's hard to describe different points of views in words, but when you have it in a film with music, a narrative, and great shots, you can really get through to people.
That's my goal, to help people understand what I've been given through this program, what it's like to be sober, and the struggle with alcoholism and addiction. That's really my primary purpose. The whole Sheck West thing, I do think that there's something kind of off... It just bothers me, the culture right now, the ignorance, and drugs ... It's cool, let's turn up or whatever, but what are you saying? What is Sheck Wes trying to say? Does he have anything to say? Does he stand for anything?
Going off of that, I was just wondering, at this point, is there anything that you want from Sheck, whether that's an apology, to actually get paid, or anything that you can think of?
I mean, honestly, I would love it if we could have a good relationship after this, but I highly doubt that. That's all I really want. I'm not really tripping on the money, it's more about the principle. Like I said, if he would've been a nice guy none of this would've even happened, but he's playing this tough guy. As far as me and him go, I'm the last person to ever hold a grudge. I have guys that have fully burned me, I let them back in, and I forgive. I think forgiveness is a huge part of life, and it's really important.
Regardless of how poppin' [Sheck Wes] is, he's 20. That's another thing said in our chat last night. He said, "I'm 20. Ya'll are grown ass men." I'm thinking to myself, "Well dude, you're an adult too and being successful comes with a certain level of responsibility. You can't cop out to, 'I'm 20.'" I just hope that he can learn something from this, and try to be a better person because we need better people, artists, idols, and heroes.
I'm down to be his friend. I don't necessarily even need an apology, I would like to talk to him on some man to man shit. I get where you're coming from, and then now you get where I'm coming from, and it's all good. Maybe we should do another fucking video together. I'm down. I don't care, whatever.