The “Run This Town” video was directed by Anthony Mandler and was filmed on August 6, 2009, at Fort Totten Park in New York City. The video was leaked on August 19, 2009, by MTV Germany. It involves people in masks, holding torches whilst walking. Rihanna takes a bandana from covering her mouth and starts to sing in a park while explosions are going off around her. Then Jay-Z sings his verse whilst in a temple-like area. At one point the trio are on a stage-like platform with the mob surrounding them. Kanye West sings in a cave-like area holding a torch and having a bandana cover his face like Jay-Z and Rihanna.
The video premiered on August 20 on MTV, as well other MTV channels across the world, and the internet. Anthony Mandler the director of the music video had this to say:
“There’s a tone and feeling to the song, there’s a militia, a march and a kind of rambunctious energy to it that, for me, I immediately wanted to tap into. I showed [Jay] some references from the classic rebellious zones of the world. We live in very orderly society in America, but when you get into Brazil, you get into the Middle East, you get into Africa, you get into Eastern Europe, when you get into places like that, there’s a different sort of ‘we run this town’ [going on]. There’s less order and more chaos. So we looked at a lot of those references, new photos and historical photos, to capture that kind of falling-apart feeling. We wanted you to feel uneasy throughout the piece,” he said. “We wanted there to be a constant layer of tension through the piece. Even in the way I shot — where the camera comes by Jay, it doesn’t stop on him, it goes to Rihanna — there’s kind of this chaos of revealing and covering and concealing. And things happen offscreen that you don’t see. I think people are really gonna flip on this”.
The video was released to iTunes on August 25, 2009. It ranked at #11 on BET’s Notarized: Top 100 Videos of 2009 countdown.