INT. JAPANESE RESTAURANT – NIGHT.

It’s 11:55 p.m., totally exhausted I’m leaning on the counter of Izaka-ya on 3rd street in West Hollywood with my friend Baldo, gorging on fried rice sushi, a house specialty.

Wize and Ope - Interview

Arrived five days earlier in L.A, at the request of the world-famous rapper Lil Wayne who wants to meet with us and talk about our brand, we are waiting for Cortez Bryant’s phone call. Cortez, aka “Tez”, Lil Wayne’s manager, is supposed to arrange a meeting with the artist.
My business partner for ten years, Ben, has left back for Paris, disappointed when after three days of meetings with Wayne’s team, Tez told us we would probably no see him this time.

For the record, Lil Wayne is one of the greatest American Hip Hop stars of all time, with more hits in the US Charts than Elvis Presley. He is said to be “the biggest rapper alive” with over 100 million albums sold since he started his career in the shallows of New Orleans in “Hollygrove”.

But let’s go back in time …

INT. MTV VMA – NIGHT

A few months earlier, during the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, Wayne received a parcel of “Wize & Ope”. My friend Efe Ogbeni, while on tour with Lady Gaga in Paris, brought our collection with him to the US.. The watches were first intended for Nicki Minaj. The rapper was seduced by the style and design of the brand, and by the story behind this little alien named “wize”. That night he won an award and, in the process, decided to be part of the “Wize & Ope” adventure.

INT. JAPANESE RESTAURANT – NIGHT.

11:59 p.m., back in Izaka-ya, a text from Tez asks us to come over right away at Universal Studios to meet Wayne who is filming his latest music video. The meeting is planned at 2 a.m.

Wize and Ope - Interview
Wize and Ope - Interview

INT. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS – NIGHT.

We arrive at the filming location. A hundred people are busy working. Tez sees us from afar and says « Happy you made it! I am showing you our world tonight »… I am drinking a coffee in the production tent and I find myself side by side with DJ Khaled. I bump into Rick Ross who is standing behind me. I can remember seeing him earlier at our hotel in Hollywood. Staying on the same floor at the SLS, we could trace the way to his room by the smell of weed that was everywhere. He had caused a flood, and triggered the fire system with the smoke in the room. The hotel had to be evacuated and we met for the first time in the elevator. He kindly told us not to worry. « No fire here » he said.

But back to the present and on the set. Tez asks us to wait. Lil Wayne is busy, he just started to skateboard, training between shots.
We can see in the distance a golf cart going back and forth on the small hill behind the film set. Wayne is going down slopes in his corner, while his entire staff and his artists, including Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Twist, Mack Maine, and the boss, his spirituel farther Birdman who is directing the shoot, are restless.

Wize and Ope - Interview
Wize and Ope - Interview

Time flies… we talk to everyone and we don’t go unnoticed as we are not from “here”, this world that we only know from the outside. After a couple of hours, bathing in this dream, we ask Tez when Wayne will be ready to meet us.

At 4:20 a.m. Wayne takes us to his trailer. He gets everyone out, and we enter through a cloud of smoke. I am sitting across him around a small table and Tez tells me to relax and stay myself. Wayne lets us enter his world, and after half an hour he says in his unique, so special voice « Men… let’s do this ». He checks me with his elbow, and says he has to get back on the set… a hundred people are waiting for him to finish the night of filming.

Wayne enters wize&ope adventure !

INT. OFFICE, PARIS – DAY

Back to Paris I announce the good news to my partners… But our Hong Kong shareholders are about to leave. They don’t understand my decision, while a group listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange has just sent us an offer to buy the company.
I explain to everyone that I have bigger plans, and that the idea of a million on my bank account and a senior manager salary aren’t enough to put my dreams on hold.

Wize and Ope - Interview