Above: A.P.T. Video #39, “Hands UP!” Download this video – click HERE for info!
This week’s video is for the song “Hands UP!” produced by SINIMA Beats!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
I went to Soundclick.com and downloaded a beat from SINIMA beats called “Hands Up.” It was a funky beat that sounded ready-made to be a party jam. This was back in August when I was still working on “The A.P.T. LP,” but, at the time, I didn’t have a song ready for the beat nor had I leased it to legally re-sell.
After I released the album, I figured it would be wise to lease the beat before someone else snatched it up. I didn’t know if I’d ever actually write a song for the beat, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry, as I’ve had too many beats that I liked taken away before I could use them!
A couple of weeks later, I was driving around Atlanta looking for someone’s house, and I had the beat playing in the car I was renting. I started to freestyle, but instead of talking about party stuff, I went a different route. In the first verse of the song I started talking about Amadou Diallo, the guy who got shot 41 times by the cops back in 1999 after taking out his wallet too fast, while in the second verse I freestyled the scenario leading up to the shooting of Sean Bell by the cops in 2006. I think it was the fact that the chorus went “Hands up, everybody hands up” that made me think about cops yelling that out, like when they bust into people’s places unannonced.
Since it was a freestyle, though, and I was driving, I didn’t write it down or record it. However, I knew that, based on the freestyle, I had the topic and structuring of how the song would go…
Fast-forward a few months later: after I released “The Next Black President” mixtape, I began thinking up songs for “The Great Black Hope.” I remembered the “Hands Up” freestyle I had done months earlier, and got to work on writing the song. The song I ended up recording is similar in topic to my freestyle, with the first verse being about Diallo and the second one being about Bell.
This is one of those songs where the topic is serious, but I deal with it in a sarcastic way. I’ve done this in the past (see: “Bust My G.A.T.,” “The KKKramer Song”), and I talk about serious stuff in this way because (a) I don’t like to take life too seriously, and (b) even when something is serious, I find that people are more willing to listen to my opinions on stuff if there is humor injected into what I’m saying. Plus, it’s less boring the way I do it!
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. I don’t actually mention either Diallo or Bell’s name in the song. I wanted people to hear the song and think it’s a party jam initially, then get surprised when they figure out what the song is acutally about. Element of surprise, people!
2. The amount of time it took for me to write and record this song was an hour and 15 minutes. I was staying at a friend’s apartment, and she went to go shopping, giving me a window of time to do all this without disturbing her!
3. Even though I mention both the NYPD and LAPD in this song, the two incidents mentioned in the song both happened in New York City.
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT:
I had a litany of video ideas for different songs, and I was going to film a more elaborate video for either this song or one of the other songs…
But then I remembered: today is Super Bowl Sunday. Which means the odds of anyone really paying that much attention to my video today is less than stellar.
That’s not to say I didn’t want to make a good video. It just means I knew that it would be better to film one of my more elaborate videos for a later week. Combine that with the fact that my computer has been getting progressively worse in terms of the amount of times it wants to slow down or half-way crash during the editing process… and the fact that last week’s video, which should have only taken 3 or 4 hours to edit, took almost 10 hours out of my day…
Well, you could see how I’d want a little bit of a break. Luckily, I’m upgrading my equipment soon… but more on that in a later entry!
I decided to keep it simple: show some pics of the victims, and be done with it. Well, okay, not THAT simple. Since I still wanted people to want to watch the video, I decided to make it semi-interactive. I created a game called “Hangman: The Police Brutality Edition” where the viewer has to try and guess the name of the victim being pictured. To make it somewhat hard, each person’s picture is altered in a way that you can’t tell who it is until the end of the verse. The song itself gives clues as to who the person is, so listeners with good guessing senses should know who’s being talked about before the verse ends.
In the last part of the video, I use a picture of the most recent victim of police brutality, Oscar Grant, who was killed in San Franscisco by the cops on New Year’s day. Specifically, he had been pushed to the ground by the cops and was yelling “Please don’t shoot me” when – lo and behold – one of the officers decided to shoot him in the back of the head. This happened AFTER I had recorded the song (otherwise I would have mentioned it), so I figured putting him in the video would be just as good.
Mixed in with pics of the victims are pics of the various protests, cops, and news stories that surrounded each of their situations. All in all, it’s an okay video – like I said, I had other ideas for it that were more elaborate, but I can’t lie: I wanna see the Super Bowl too, and I was NOT going to be spending all day editing a video and missing it!
Some Interesting Video Tidbits:
1. The longest part of editing this video was adding in the “Hangman” portion of the game. Once I made the video, I had to go back and load it into my AVS video editor, which allows you to add text anywhere you want on your video. From there, I had to paste in line after line of text for when I wanted certain letters to appear in each person’s name. There were three of them, and the total time it took to do all that was about 2 hours.
2. Estimated editing time for this video was about 4 hours. That may not seem long, but considering the video consist of all pics and NO filmed portions, it should have been shorter. As such, my computer is not equipped to hold all the videos I make for it. Like I said, I’ll be upgrading REAL soon…
That’s all for now – only 13 more videos left to go! See ya next Sunday!