Inquiring Minds

Chatting With "Mr. Boomtown" About Directing Mike Jones, Slim Thug and More

Most people in the world of music videos may not recognize the name Nahala Johnson, but lately, they've recognized his nom de film: Mr. Boomtown. The Port Arthur native (he now splits his time between Houston and Dallas) is a nominee for the BET Hip Hop Awards' Director of the Year. The show will be held October 10th in Atlanta.

He's nominated for his work on two videos that really couldn't be any more different from each other -- Slim Thug's "I Run," with its breathtaking night-time aerial views of Houston, underground clubs, bling, and wads of cash; and Mike Jones's "Next to You," which features the aforementioned Mr. Jones and his sweetie shopping at Greenspoint Mall and eating Corn Flakes in unbridled domestic bliss.

But after ten years of producing videos for the likes of Scarface, Bun B, Paul Wall, and Mya, Mr. Boomtown is ready for just about anything. We caught up with him this week, but only for a brief phone chat -- as you can imagine, a fellow with the name of "Mr. Boomtown" has quite the busy schedule.

We started by asking him what Slim and Mike differed in their approaches to making videos.

Mr. Boomtown: With Slim, it was more about talking more to the label, then actually Slim about the concept....Because at that particular time, the label that he was signed to was actually trying to get another director because they were just trying to put me in a box as like a southern director. So they were trying to go for a different look and all of that.

But Slim...was like, "No, he [shot] my other videos, we want him to do this video," you know, "forget what y'all are talking bout, Boomtown is going to do the video"....The whole deal with that video was, we were going to actually give them something different than they would normally see from a Slim Thug or a Houston artist.

We were going to show Houston in a different way. Not just only like the gritty and...the hood, you know....[Mike Jones] was totally different from Slim, because he had his whole ideas in his head. He basically pretty much just laid it all out, and all I had to do was just bring it to life.

Rocks Off:The videos are totally different from each other... Mike Jones' [video] is not like a typical hip-hop video. He's, like, shopping at the mall and drinking orange juice... What was it like, shooting something like that, that's so different?

It was actually fun. It was quite challenging, because it [was like] shooting a R&B video. It had an R&B feel....As a director, you don't want to get caught in that box... You don't want to be, like, typecast as only a rap director, as only a hip-hop director. You want to be able to cross over and shoot the big R&B videos or the rock videos or the big pop videos.

Mr. B. said his next project was a killer pool-side party video for Gucci Mane, which we're looking forward to seeing - mostly because we like watching videos at work.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow