MadGibbs Director Jonah Schwartz Talks About Gangster Music Videos

The director of Freddie Gibbs's most recent unfiltered videos takes us behind-the-scenes.

Jonah Schwartz music video Director

The recent MadGibbs videos for “Shame” and “Thuggin'” were compelling enough to learn more about the director, Jonah Schwartz. Filled with raw footage of automatic weapons, illicit drug use, and attractive women, Schwartz filmed this imagery as a true testament to his experience amongst Gibbs’s world of crack, guns, street fights. This part of reality bites as hard as its bark. Read on, as Jonah Schwartz takes us behind-the-scenes.

Name: Jonah Schwartz

Born: New York, NY

Current Location: Brooklyn, NY & Tokyo, Japan.

Education: New York Film Academy

Favorite Director: Stanley Kubrick

Favorite Camera: Anything expensive. They’re all good. Really, it’s all about the lens for me.

Favorite style of film: Historical war epics and Japanese gangster flicks.

Back story on MadGibbs videos


Jonah Schwartz: We started shooting the robbery scene first. Once that AK with the giant banana clip came out, we knew we had to make the rest the video as gully as possible to keep the pace. There’s a whole lot of reality in that one. The video was shot by me, running around the ‘hood with a Steadicam all day. I doubt we would have had access to what we did if we had a film crew of any sort. There’s plenty of crazy footage that couldn’t fit into the final cut, including our crack smoking extra getting knocked out by someone for no reason. He didn’t seem to mind though. He got right back up and stood there drinking his beer for that final performance shot in the backyard.


Continuing the story where “Thuggin'” left off. . . After stealing all that coke, it made sense that Freddie would need to sell some of it off. From the lyrics of the song, it seemed we needed various girls doing the walk of shame. But it felt too obvious to keep it at that. I think the drug element in there gave double meaning to the shame in their walk. The sex is implied, but I wanted it to be ambiguous, leaving more to your imagination as to what was happening in between those cuts. Some may not agree with the blatant drug use, but hey, this shit happens every day. Some girls really like snorting cocaine.

Jonah Schwartz’s Favorite Music Videos (directed)

Curren$y – “Hold On”

L.E.P. Bogus Boys – “25th Hour”

The Black Keys – “Too Afraid to Love You”

Curren$y – “King Kong”

Anarchy – “Playing in the Ghetto”

Prodigy – “Pretty Thug”

Blakroc feat. Mos Def and Jim Jones – “Ain’t Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)”

Vado- “I See You (Black People)”

Jonah Schwartz’s Favorite Music Videos (not directed)

Black Keys – “Gold On The Ceiling” (Harmony Korine version)

Prodigy – “Mac 10 Handle”

Justice. – “Stress”

Blood Orange – “I’m Sorry We Lied”

Wu-Tang Clan – “Can It Be All So Simple”

Special Ed – “Think About It”

Geto Boys – “Minds Playing Tricks On Me”

The Notorious B.I.G. feat. 112 – “Sky’s The Limit”

First break at directing

The first music video I ever shot was in Tokyo, for the Japanese rap super group Nitro Microphone Underground. It was directed by 13th Witness from NY, and I was hired as the Director of Photography, and Editor. Somehow it got nominated for a Video Music Award and after that I realized I should be making my own videos as well.

When I came back to NY, while shooting some behind the scenes footage for Dame Dash and Jim Jones, I linked up with fellow Byrdgang member NOE, and directed my first video for him down in Baltimore, MD, for the song, “Gladiator.” Since then, it’s been nonstop.

Dream music video: I’ve always wanted to shoot an ill video in Jamaica—some street life shit. Sizzla or Mavado for sure. For America if I had to pick one, definitely Nas. Also A$AP is killing it right now. Music and videos are always dope. Would love to contribute to that. Holler at me!

For more on Jonah Schwartz check out his website, as well as his Flickr and Vimeo pages.

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