Prince Michael Jackson’s production company King’s Son Productions brings to mind his father, as Michael is often referred to as the King of Pop. But the name is both a homage and a challenge — as Prince says, “a name is given, but a title is earned.” The 20-year-old is working hard to live up to his family’s legacy with music videos for tracks like Swedish singer Nano’s “Hold On,” premiering on Billboard today (July 27).
“Hold On” is the third video Prince — Michael Jackson’s eldest son — has produced since launching the company in 2016. But his interest in video production stems back to childhood. Growing up, Prince was fascinated by his father’s own iconic music videos, like “Thriller” (“a classic,” he says) and “Smooth Criminal,” which Prince admired for its elaborate storyline.
“I love watching his music videos, because they had a very cinematic side to them,” Prince tells Billboard over the phone. “I enjoy that format, where it’s a story in short format, portrayed by the song.”
The video for “Hold On” takes a similar approach, weaving together the uplifting stories of several characters as they face various problems, ranging from financial to physical. The production team went with dark, dreary tones on purpose: “It would show through the visuals that it’s a struggling period,” Prince explains, gradually brightening the scene as each character overcomes their issue.
But Prince says his work also draws inspiration from television and popular movies. “When we heard the song ‘Hold On,’ the director [Christopher Perez] had the idea of portraying a bunch of struggles, and connecting them together, kind of like the movie Crash,” he explains, referencing Paul Haggis’s 2005 drama flick.
The video narrative for “Hold On” is personal for Nano, who says he was going through “rough times” while writing the track. “As I usually do when things get tough, I wrote a song to change my mindset. I imagined a day when everything would work out for the better and I took that emotion and put it into the song,” the artist, born Nano Omar, tells Billboard. “Who knew that this was the song that would make all that come true?”
Nano originally wrote the track for Swedish music competition Melodifestivalen, which selected the country’s entry in 2017’s international Eurovision Song Contest. “Hold On” was the runner-up in the end, but when Prince heard the song through Perez, he recognized the one thing he looks for when choosing collaborators: Passion. The song’s unifying message didn’t hurt, either. “There’s a lot of verses in here about having faith just to continue and being unified,” Prince says. “It’s a really good song for the time, for us, right now.”
On Nano’s end, choosing to partner with Prince for the visual was easy. “He was as humble as I heard he would be. To pull this big project through at his age says a lot…I mean, he’s only 20!” he adds. “There’s nothing Prince and his team promised me before shooting that didn’t happen.”
Prince, who is currently on summer break from studying for his business degree at Loyola Marymount University, says he’s interested in making the jump to film eventually. For now, he’s drawn to the behind-the-scenes aspect of his video production role, but not just as a shield from the spotlight.
“I enjoy bringing creative people together, and helping them make something,” he says.
Watch the full visual for “Hold On,” below.