Back in 1993, a young filmmaker and director by way of Harlem found himself in the midst of history waiting to happen. After having worked on films like "Do The Right Thing" and "Mo Better Blues," along with editing music videos for Salt N Pepa and others, Abdul Malik Abbott’s directorial eye soon landed him on the set of Original Flavor’s music video for "All That." It was on this shoot where Abbott got introduced to a few individuals who would go on to roc the rap world.
"I met Jay Z because Dame Dash was managing him, so he was on the "All That" video set, Abbott told REVOLT. "Jay was this really quiet dude, like he was just there. He was barely in the video."
Despite hardly being noticed behind the cameras, Abbott explained the young Brooklyn rhymer still managed to stand out. "The reason why he stuck out is because we were shooting at this bar and the bar was closed. He wanted to buy a bottle of champagne and the owner was like, "You know this dude keeps asking me buy a bottle of champagne, but we're closed and can’t legally sell it to him,"" he recalled. Despite being unable to buy the champagne, Jay got to speak with Abbott that day and one year later, invited him to direct "I Can’t Get Wit That," the Clark Kent-produced B-side to Jay’s "In My Lifetime."
"The first video we did was "I Can’t Get Wit That," we shot it in Marcy [Houses]. It was very low budget," he said, but not before adding, "That was like the first introduction of Roc-A-Fella Records." This would not only mark the beginning of Roc-A-Fella, but also Abbott's relationship with the team. The bond culminated in a number of music videos and projects, most notably the seminal visuals for Jay's magnum opus, Reasonable Doubt.
As RD turns 20 this weekend (June 25), REVOLT honors the classic with a special sit-down featuring the legendary Abdul Malik Abbott, who is responsible for filming a bulk of the videos from the momental debut, including "Dead Presidents." This three part series, titled "Jay Z’s ’Reasonable Doubt’ Journey Told Through The Lens," will detail Roc-A-Fella's early days by way of Abbott’s camera lens. Part one looks back on the set of Roc-A-Fella's first-ever music videos, while the next two installments (arriving June 23 and June 25) focuses on the historical "Dead Presidents" shoot and the culmination of Reasonable Doubt. Stay tuned to REVOLT, and check out part one below.