When Raheem DeVaughn's explicit video for "She's Single" dropped last week, people immediately began asking whether the graphic sex scenes were real or simulated.
The people only people who have the answer are those who were on the set of the D.C.-based R&B singer's video shoot—and one of those people is the video's director, 6ix Shoota of area production company Cool Kids Forever.
"It's definitely a secret," Shoota says of the big did-they-or-didn't-they question. But he understands why everyone has been talking about the love scenes, shot in silhouette, and speculating about their authenticity.
"I think the positions and the actual act of getting into the positions, that's what makes it really realistic," he says. "The average person doesn't notice, but it's different from a movie, where you may see certain positions, but you don't see them stopping, and switching it up. I think that's why everyone immediately said, 'Oh, something went down,' because you don't really see that unless you're watching a porno. But you have to switch."
[Raheem DeVaughn's video for "She's Single" (NSFW)]
"Even thought I was there, when I was editing it, I giggled at certain points," he continues. "While I was editing, I thought at some parts, that might be too much. But we were careful not to show too much, we didn't show nipples, things like that."
The shoot took place at Chinatown's Hotel Monaco in late November, and was done to promote the "She's Single" track, which is from DeVaughn's new Jackin' 4 Beats mixtape. "He hit me up and said he wanted to do something just to set the mixtape off," Shoota says. "The song is about a girl cheating on a man. Usually you see the other side, a guy cheating on his girl, but women cheat, too. At first we were going to make it that she had just had an argument with her man and cheats, then we decided it would be better to make it where everything is cool and she still cheats."
Althought the director says that the video "has a raunchy side," creating a visual complement to the song's story was his aim. "I tried to make it artistic—that was the goal," Shoota says. "I sent Raheem the edit and he laughed, he was like, 'You made a little soft core, huh?' I was like, 'You were there!'"
Shoota says that he and DeVaughn also shot a spot for World AIDS Day, and that it was important to show comdoms in the "She's Single" video. "We defintely wanted to show the condoms. That was one of the things that got people talking. If it becomes standard, where people are just thinking about condoms all the time, that's a good thing."
Shoota, whose has shot several big videos this year, the most notable being Tabi Bonney's "Nuthin But A Hero," says it was fun to shoot the DeVaughn project, which is different from anything else he has done so far.
"I haven't shot anything yet that really shows passion, I tried to make it artistic," he says.
Next up for the Cool Kids director is a clean version of the video, which will use footage leftover from the initial shoot. He says a clean version wasn't initially planned, but was prompted by the amazing response to the video.
"It has been crazy," he says,. "People called me and said they saw the video on CNN. And it just so happens that Keri Hilson's video came out around the same time. Some thing you can never plan. Then Raheem was nominated for a Grammy the same week. It all helped with the push."
It also helped 6ix Shoota gain attention. "This is only the fifth or sixth video where I've directed, cut, and edited—I'm still getting my name out. But people have been reaching out—producers, labels. People reached out after "Nuttin But A Hero," too. I think it shows my versatility. I also think it helps peoplle realize that—not taking anything away from Raheem, of course—but a director can really add to an artist's vision."