Nobody likes working for free. Unfortunately, in the modern gig economy of freelancers and specialist contractors (not to mention government shutdowns) it seems to be happening more and more. In this case, though, the contractors got even in the best way — by delivering a product that satirizes its subject and makes the case for producers standing up for themselves until clients pay up. The client here was Sheck Wes, who contracted Ridge Production, a video production company that specializes in shooting video for musicians, for his “Gmail” video from Mudboy, but later refused to pay. The result can be seen below.
Ridge decided to get even by uploading a re-dubbed version of the video they shot for Sheck with all but the beat stripped out and funny commentary laid over the grimy, threatening visuals. While it was clear Sheck wanted to reference violent rebel groups in North Africa with the desert setting and military motif, it’s hard to take seriously with the video’s producers rattling off nasally play-by-play like “I’m outside, kiss my gun” and “I bought by gun in the store. I’m so mad and I’m pointing to the sky.”
According to Ridge’s website, they are a 13-person crew (and one dog) who have an extensive client list which includes high-profile brands like 20th Century Fox, Complex, Dole, ESPN, MGM Resorts, Samsung, Uber, US Bank, and Warner Bros. In an explainer at the beginning of the music video, Ridge founder Pat claims that the agency received a cease-and-desist from Sheck’s lawyers regarding an earlier version of the video they uploaded, as well as DMs from Sheck himself. Pat says, “If you would have just asked me nicely… I would have just taken the video down.” In a Reddit post sharing the video, users who claim experience with freelancing projects say it’s common practice across industries for clients to stiff contractors once work is completed, claiming the work delivered doesn’t meet standards and using it anyway. The thread also includes similar revenge stories that often involve the contractors trolling the client into paying, since they often cover the costs out-of-pocket and need the money to even break even, let alone profit.
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It can only be assumed that Sheck’s labels, Cactus Jack, GOOD Music, Interscope, and Universal, will have to take a look at the situation and determine what happened and how to resolve the issue. It’s not the first time the 20-year-old Harlem rapper has found himself embroiled in controversy. Last year, singer Justine Skye seemed to confirm she was in an abusive relationship with Sheck, leading to DC rapper GoldLink debuting his song “Justine’s Interlude” on COLORS, calling the Harlem rapper out.