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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Professor jams with Jay-Z in music video

Cathrine Himberg Communications professor John Roussell can be seen in Jay-Z’s new music video “Picasso Baby.” Roussell dances and watches the rapper perform as if he is a painting in a museum.
Cathrine Himberg
Communications professor John Roussell can be seen in Jay-Z’s new music video “Picasso Baby.” Roussell dances and watches the rapper perform as if he is a painting in a museum.

One Chico State professor will show students what he did this summer by displaying his name in the credits for Jay-Z’s music video “Picasso Baby.”

“I have to stay relevant,” said John Roussell, a communications professor. “This instantly will catch their attention.”

Roussell and his wife, Cathrine Himberg, a kinesiology professor at Chico State, were working on a physical fitness documentary in New York when the opportunity to be in the music video arose.

Roussell and his wife took a break from filming to sit around Himberg’s sister’s pool in when they got an invite.

“She said, ‘hey you guys want to go see a Jay-Z music video?’,” Roussell said.

It was a closed event, but Himberg’s sister had access because she sells art at Milk Studios, an art gallery in New York City, he said.

Once they walked inside, a couple of hundred people were waiting to watch Jay-Z, a prominent rapper who has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine.

Roussell was one of the few who was handed a black chip by a member of Jay-Z’s crew, who said Roussell was getting a one-on-one with the renowned hip-hop artist.

Roussell started preparing for an interview by doing a quick Internet search for Jay-Z’s latest music. He is a fan of the artist, but is a bigger fan of his older music.

Then the crew member told him it wouldn’t be an interview. Roussell would be filmed with Jay-Z dancing in front of him. In the video, Roussell was supposed to sit and admire Jay-Z like he was a picture in an art gallery.

Instead of getting up and walking away like the crew said to do, Roussell did a dance move. He said it was to try to get the camera on his wife, but Roussell’s dance ended up in the final cut of the video.

“The director was trying to figure out ‘who is this guy?’” Roussell said.

Most of the people selected to be in the video were famous, so people at the shoot were following Roussell’s wife around trying to figure out who her husband was and why he was there.

Roussell’s name was in the credits of the video, which he thought was the best part of the whole experience.

“It’s awe-inspiring—the power of the Internet,” Roussell said. “Being a celebrity isn’t difficult.”

As a result of the video, Roussell will bring more  than “street cred” — as he calls it  — to his classrooms this semester.

He picked useful social media tips from the video he plans to incorporate into lessons, he said.

Jay-Z allowed people to take video at the event before the final product, which was something Roussell has never seen before, he said.

“He’s a media god,” Roussell said. “He understands connections and how young people work.”

Jay-Z has a soft voice and is very appreciative and sweet in person, Roussell said.

“He understands how to connect to people, that’s why he’s a mega-star,” he said.

There was only one let down of the day for Roussell.

“I wish, but Beyonce was not there,” he said.

You can view Roussell in Jay-Z’s music video “Picasso Baby” at 4:08 and 7:45 on YouTube.

 

Risa Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or @risamjohnson on Twitter.

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