This week’s video is for the song “Back On My Grind,” produced by SINIMA beats!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
While surfing online one day at my favorite beat site, www.soundclick.com, I came across an instrumental produced by SINIMA Beats called “Back On My Grind.” When I heard the beat, it sounded like something Jay-Z would rap over – something akin to his “Roc Boys” song, as it had lots of horns and had an old-school soulful sound.
I knew I wanted to make a song to it, and the title of the beat seemed appropriate enough for a song title as well. At the time I downloaded the beat, though – sometime around July or August – I didn’t want to put out a song called “Back” to anything, especially since I hadn’t put out an album yet that had been heard by enough people to warrant me putting out that type of song.
Fast-forward to November, though, and it was a completely different situation. Now that my first mixtape, “The O-Bama Mixtape,” and my “first” known album, “The A.P.T. LP,” has been purchased by a few people, I felt I could now put out a legitimate “Back” song, especially since I hadn’t released a “new” collection of songs via mixtape or album since August.
Of course, since I’ve been releasing a new video each week since May 2008, I’ve never really been gone from the public eye. So, in the chorus, I made note of that fact by adding the tag, “I never left, took a break, now I gotta get mine!”
As for the song itself, it’s what I call a “fighter track.” The beat is one with a tempo that sounds like it’s ready to be pummeled lyrically.
I come up with songs in one of two ways: writing/typing it down, or freestyling it. For this song, I wanted to write it down, but have it sound like I would sound when I freestyle. When I freestyle, I tend to do it in a way that doesn’t sound so structured – i.e. no “a-b-a-b” style, and the end of every line doesn’t mean it’s the end of my sentence (sometimes they can end in the middle of another line, or just be one long run-on sentence). Words can be stretched to sound different if I want to have them rhyme with another word, and there‘s lots of free association… basically, I wanted to make a song that didn’t sound so song-like, but more freestyle-like.
For this type of song, the words don’t really matter as much as how they sound. Not to say that the words aren’t important – it’s just that, given the beat being used, it’s how the words gel with the tempo that matter more. Again, it’s a “fighter track;” therefore, I wanted the delivery of the words to give the listener a feeling akin to watching someone punching a punching bag.
It’s also an upbeat instrumental, so I wanted the song to be motivational. I talk about being on my hustle, grinding hard, being militant on the microphone, crushing my competition, and wanting to be taken seriously as a contender in the music game. It’s the kind of song that other people coming up in the game can listen to and FEEL like they can relate!
Some Interesting Song Insights:
1. The one thing I hate about reading song lines while recording is, sometimes I mess up a word, or may misread a word and say something else instead. There’s a line where I say: “…but somehow, they be getting’ drawn/Into the cipher – rap cipher…” The first “cipher” is supposed to be the word “circle,” but I misread it. However, I liked the way it sounded, so I kept it in.
2. This song has a lot of syllable rhymes. It’s where words that may not rhyme with each other sound similar due to how they are said. For example, there’s a line where I say: “I go back, and analyze/Fix the franchise…” The words “and,” “analyze” and “franchise” don’t technically rhyme, but the “-an” and “-ize” parts of the words make the sentence flow well together. See how many instances of this you can find throughout the song – it’s fun!
3. My favorite line in the song: “Don’t call me a buster, I’ll BUST ya, homeboy!” It’s the last line of the second verse, and it’s not very clever, but it has the most energy of any line in the song.
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT:
This was one of those video ideas that didn’t take me too long to come up with. Actually, I’ve already thought out most of the video ideas for songs on this mixtape. I guess this is because it’s been so long since I’ve written new stuff that I had time to think out how I’d film visuals for the songs!
For this song, I knew I wanted to film it like I was training for a boxing match, only instead I’d be training to record. The set-up for this video is actually influenced by LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” video, where he did the song in a boxing ring. (Incidentally, this gives you reference to how old I am – the fact that I remember that video, and not just because I saw it on some damn “Rap Videos of the 90s” special on VH1.)
I wanted to look like I was working out, so I opted to wear my grey hoodie, the same one I wore for the mirror image of me in video #23, “True Lyricist,” while spitting the song on the mic. As for the rest of the video, I wear a simple white hanes undershirt and jeans.
I thought it would be funny if I filmed myself attempting to work out, only not very well. I don’t have a lot of muscle, so I wanted the video to demonstrate why. I do push ups but peter out, get cramps while doing crunches, run up and down steps and fall down, and try to swallow eggs a la “Rocky,” but end up… well, you’ll have to see the video to find out!
Some Interesting Video Insights:
1. Now that I no longer have a camera stand, you may be wondering how I’m able to get all my camera shots without any help. Allow me to give you a few insights:
* For the shot of me rapping in front of the microphone, I used a chair, topped with a medium-sized suitcase, topped with a miniature ironing board, topped with a box containing a mini-modem, topped with a box for a lap-top plug.
* For the shots of me doing floor exercises, I used a medium-sized suitcase, topped with a miniature ironing board.
* For the bathroom shot, I used a chair, a box containing a mini-modem, topped with a box for a lap-top plug.
* For the stairs scene, there’s a closet directly in front of the stairway that had a shelf on it.
* For the kitchen scene, there were three shots. For the shot of me cracking the eggs and cooking them, I placed the camera on top of a box of penne pasta; for the shot of me drinking the eggs, I placed the camera on the cabinet shelf panel; and for the shot of me eating, I used a different cabinet shelf panel.
As I always like to say, I ALWAYS find a way to get the shot I want!
2. This was also the first video where I did all the shots sideways. I experimented with this a little bit in video #24, “Blow It All,” but I have yet to do a full video using a shot at this angle. Since it’s the 30th video, I figured I would try something different by doing the whole video this way!
3. I actually had some workout shorts and/or sweats I was going to wear. However, when I get into recording mode, I sometimes forget to change wardrobe. So, while I remembered to change my shirt, I ended up keeping the jeans on. Really, now, who works out in jeans?!?
4. There’s a line in the song where I say, “Rap Urkels getting wedgies, I’m like, ‘Did I do that?!?’” I thought it would be funny to dress up Urkel-style for that part of the song, so I put on some dress pants, a nerdy-looking shirt, and my nerdy glasses (first worn in video #10, “Retirement Home,” when I dressed like the old man).
5. In the scene where I try to drink the eggs, I actually DID take a drink and place the eggs in my mouth. Unfortunately, I didn’t place the pan high enough into the shot for you to see me spit the egg into it before cooking it. After I shot it, I cooked the eggs, placed them on the plate, then went to check the shot. Lo and behold, I didn’t get the shot I wanted, and I didn’t want to cook anymore eggs. So, I had to re-shoot it the second time, and act like I was drinking then spitting the egg back into the cup instead of the pan, THEN pouring it into the pan.
6. Estimated editing time: I don’t know. I was watching “Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2” on TBS for 5 hours while editing this thing, plus I had to listen to my roommates argue about whether or not they loved each other, THEN I had to catch a train to visit a friend of mine… in short, there were a lot of distractions, so I’m sure the actual editing time was much shorter than the span of time I actually finished it in.
That’s all for now! Only 22 more videos to go – see ya next Sunday!
Lyrics to “Back On My Grind”:
Guess what? Im back! –
Hustlin hard, back on my grind,
Ready to shine, Im out to get mine
Say good- bye to the good guy
Used to be nice, I paid the price
Good guy going bad? (sa right)
So I be – makin the moves,
Showin improve, get in the groove
I never lose, I win, make a mistake, rarely
And if I do, I go back, and analyze
Fix the franchise, playa, Im a seasoned vet
A.P.T., say the name, it demands respect
Swing to the left, ladies know Im never bereft
And if I – get me a chance
Im tryna enhance wallets like Wallace
Big Poppa, mo money, no problems
Its a – swing and a miss, these players is pissed
They bout to -get dismissed, they wish that they was this
But they – cant see me
Got eyes like Stevie, tryna wonder how they blunder
Im fitna take em under,
Back on my grind – brothas wanna hate, but its a waste of time
Back on my grind – I never left, took a break, now I gotta get mine
Play scrabble – say babble, ran sack em,
I get militant, on the mic, Im diligent
Its – not a façade, gifted by God
Im on my job, no pay-roll, got fly girls girls like J.Lo
They – dont know, How I spit – divine lyrics
Moves spirits like a haunted house – Im out
Peace! But no peace to the competition
They try – not to listen, but some how they be gettin drawn
In to the cipher – rap cipher
Rap Urkels gettin wedgies, Im like, Did I do thaaaaat?
Sorry – no evidence I was in your residence
My presence is felt, and ever since
I was a little boy, I been tryin, to pump iron
But I never grew muscle, still I know I gotta tussle
Because I got the – heart of a lion, the mind of a hustla
Dont – call me a busta, Ill bust ya, homeboy,