This week’s music video is for the song, “True Lyricist,” from “The O-Bama Mixtape.”
AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ON “THE O-BAMA MIXTAPE” – Download for FREE by clicking the “Mixtape” link at the top of this page!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
In terms of song quality, this is one of my favorite songs that I’ve written.
I wrote this song around the time that Lil’ John was popular. For those of you not in the know, Lil’ John is an Atlanta “rapper” whose rhymes consisted of repeating offensive phrases (example: “I DON’T GIVE A F–K!” and WE’LL CRUSH THEM N!@@AS!!) in an extremely hype manner. His wordplay was definitely NOT up to par with rappers like Common or Talib Kweli, whose raps tend to delve into sonnets with deeper meanings about life, love, and helping our fellow man.
However, Lil’ John was able to sell millions of copies of his albums, something the other aforementioned rappers – and others like them – weren’t able to do.
This sparked a LOT of criticism from the hip-hop community. People like to think they are better than they actually are, and many of these people were hating on the fact that a guy like Lil’ John was barely saying anything in his songs yet selling tons of records, while artists who had “something to say,” i.e. “Conscious Rappers,” weren’t getting regular radio play or going gold off making songs that had meaning to them.
For me, though, I’ve always been a believer that just because people SAY they want one thing doesn’t mean they wouldn’t prefer another. It’s like a fat person saying they WANT to lose weight, that they NEED to lose weight… but they’re saying it while eating a whole box of Oreo cookies!
Personally, I’ve never had a problem with what people consider to be “commercialized” rap. I’m in this for two reasons: (a) for the love of the music, and (b) money. In order to make money at music, you have to be willing to adjust (read: not sell out or change, but adjust) your musical taste so that you can reach a larger audience of people.
Part of the reason so-called “Conscious rappers” don’t sell well is because they’re so stuck on this “Well, I’m going to do this rap thing MY way, and hope that people eventually catch on to it” crap that they can’t get anywhere.
A perfect example: too many of these rappers use beats that are slow, don‘t have a danceable tempo, and use words that even people with a college degree can’t understand. That’s great and all when you’re performing at an open-mic poetry night; however, the average listener isn’t going to listen to it if the beat isn’t bangin’, they can’t dance to it, and feel like the words are flying over their head. These are just some of the reasons why their songs go unheard by the masses.
These rappers, in my opinion, have a serious attitude problem. They can’t sell records doing rap the way they do it, so they get jealous when they see someone spitting out so-called “dumbed-down” lyrics (see: Lil’ John, Soulja Boy, Young Chris, Flo Rida, etc.) and start hating. HARD. They like to put together songs talking about how these types of rappers are killing the industry, how they have no talent, and why the stuff they’re putting out pales in comparison to the “real” music they, as a “Conscious rapper,” are putting out.
(BTW: I put that term in quotes because I think it’s a stupid term. Anyone that’s walking around speaking normal sentences tends to be conscious, and you can be just as awake talking about the government as you can be when talking about sexing someone. Morons).
So, in retaliation to all that – and, because I like to be different – I decided to make a song explaining WHY these types of rappers can’t get radio play.
The summary of the song: they can’t get radio play as easily as some other rappers because:
1. They try to hard to sound “deep”
2. They use words nobody can understand
3. They don’t realize that it’s not WHAT they’re saying that matters, it’s HOW they’re saying it
4. They don’t want to change for fear that they’d be “selling out”
5. They don’t want to consider using a different flow
6. They sound BORING!
The only thing I forgot to mention in the song was that they use beats that nobody can dance to. Sure, they can vibe off the beat, but when I’m at a party trying to get my groove on… sorry, Talib, but unless it’s your “Just to Get By” song (produced by Kanye West, a rapper/producer that can sound deep AND do it to a good beat), I ain’t trying to hear you at no party!
For this song, I already knew which beat I wanted to use. It’s the beat used by Tupac for “Ambitionz as a Ridah” off his double-disc, “All Eyez on Me.” The song has been reused by many MCs for the purpose of mixtapes and albums, and with good reason: it’s one of the most infectious west-coast beats ever produced. EVER. It’s one of those beats that just BEGS for someone to spit on it, and when I came up with the chorus for the song, it matched up with the beat only too well!
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. In the original version, I said the line: “You mad ‘cause Lil’ John got a record deal…” However, Lil’ John’s been off the scene for a while due to legal issues with his former record company. Luckily, Soulja Boy gets the same types of criticism about his music that Lil’ John did, so I used his name instead.
2. The part of the song where I rap all fast like a “Conscious rapper”? That’s pretty much how fast I talk in real life when I’m not recording songs. For some reason, I’m able to speak the words of my songs at a normal pace, yet when I talk I have to try and slow myself down. Can’t figure out why that is…
3. My favorite line in the song: “I’m not gonna spend my time trying to guess/Every syl-able you said…” The way I said the word “syllable” is not in the way it’s normally pronounced – it’s akin to something Eminem would do, and I’ve always been a big fan of his, too!
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT:
In terms of video quality, this is NOT one of my favorite videos.
This is video number 23, and, quite honestly, it’s starting to get harder and harder to figure out how many videos I can do where it’s just me on camera. Part of this is because I haven’t been able to record any new songs due to my recent move, and the fact that one of my housemates, who is a fat-ass and won’t ever leave the house to find a job (or do anything else for that matter), means I don’t have the alone time I need to record new stuff without bothering people.
In short, that means I have to make videos with whatever I already have recorded.
So, the video isn’t the best one I’ve made. However, since I like this song, I knew I needed to make something to it, if only to have it posted on YouTube and/or my websites for people to hear.
My original idea was to make it look like an underground video, with me dressed up in a hoodie and some jeans while spitting the song into the camera like I’m “hard.” However, the angles I wanted for it would have meant getting someone else to record me and move the camera around while I did the song.
Then, I realized that my new room has a closet door with a big-ass mirror on it. I’ve always been fascinated as to how other directors were able to get mirror shots in their videos/movies without the camera showing in the background. I messed around with my camera a bit to see if I could do it; lo and behold, I could! This gave me a simple enough idea for a video, where I could have 2 versions of myself: the “real life” version of me who wants to be a “True Lyricist,” and a mirrored version of me who knew it would be better to try and figure out how to make people actually want to HEAR the music.
The rest of the video just kind of came about without too much planning. I shot the scenes of “mirror me” dressed in a grey hoodie with blue jeans, while the “real-life me” had on a blue shirt and pajamas. He’s at his laptop trying to record another “conscious rapper-like” song, and gets interrupted by “mirror me” in the process. The “True Lyricist” song is the talk that “mirror me” has with “real-life me” about switching up his style a bit so that it relates to others.
Like I said, a pretty simple video. With the way I edited it, it actually came out looking pretty good. Still, I’ve done better!
Some Interesting Video Tidbits:
1. I no longer have my camera stand – it wouldn’t fit in the box when I moved – so I had to use one of my packing boxes and my big suitcase for the camera angles.
2. In the opening of the video, I do an example of what most “Conscious rappers” sound like by recording a “written” rap into the mic. However, that is actually a freestyle I came up with at that very moment off the top of my head. I didn’t know whether or not it would come out sounding good, but it’s actually not that bad!
3. To keep the camera out of the shot, I had to place the camera towards the far-right side of the mirror situation, then angle it in. The hardest part was trying not to swing my arms in front of the lens while recording, thus giving away the fact that I wasn’t in a mirror. Wait, what?
4. I filmed this video in my new room!
5. I decided to add some c-walking into my video. Since the song uses a beat made famous by a now-dead west-coast rapper (R.I.P. Tupac), I figured some west-coast dance moves were in order. Hopefully I didn’t butcher it too much – I don’t want any gangs finding me and beating me up for doing the moves the wrong way!
That’s all for now – enjoy the video and the song, available exclusively on “The O-Bama Mixtape!” See ya next week!