This week’s video is for the song “Killed the Beat,” featuring (and produced by) Myxtape!
AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ON “The Next Black President (a.k.a. Back On My Grind)” Mixtape – Click HERE for download info!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
First things first: the guest artist on this track is Myxtape, a 17 (or maybe 18 now) up-and-coming MC and producer from Philly. His songs are awesome, and his production skills – as you’ll be able to hear in this song – are incredible. His website is www.myspace.com/Myxtape. I did this song and the video for it because (a) I believe that you best help yourself by first helping others, and (b) his stuff is pretty good!
After the “O-bama O-Bama” song started getting big on YouTube and on the radio, I began getting messages from people asking me to collaborate with them on tracks. This wasn’t completely surprising to me – I figured that other people would hear the song on their local radio stations, track it down on the net and then try to do songs with me in the hopes of getting themselves on radio as well. Just imagine: “Hey, play my song – it features the ‘O-bama Milli’ guy!”
At the same time, I figured if I started to do some collaborations, it would also help me to expand the listening audience for my music. Think about it; if I do a collaboration, the person I do the song with is going to try to get at least a few of his friends to listen to the song. If those people like my verse, they might try to find more of my stuff. So, in a sense, doing collabos would help both me AND the other person out!
I put a video up on YouTube telling people I was looking to do collaborations. I told them if they wanted me to do a song with them, they needed to send me the beat, an idea for a song, and that, if I liked what they sent, I’d have it back to them within 24 hours.
Lo and behold: I got quite a few people who sent me messages. One of them was an artist who goes by the name “Myxtape” (pronounced “mix tape.” I’m sure you could have figured that out on your own). He asked me to collaborate on a track he had made the beat for called “Killed the Beat.” He also sent me the beat, along with one simple instruction: that I “kill it,” or in layman’s terms, “do a really, REALLY good job on your part of the song.”
I took a listen to the beat… and I LOVED it. It has a bluesy kind of feel to it, yet just jams when you play it. He added his own drum pattern to the sample (I forget which one), and he was also kind enough to place his verse on the first half of the track. All I had to do was add in my verse on the second part, and the song would be complete.
I listened to the track quite a few times before I actually typed anything. As is the case with collabo songs, I always feel pressure to try and match up to, or outdo, the person I’m collaboration with. I consider it “friendly competition,” but it’s even more important to come strong with a verse when you’re the last person on the track – otherwise, the next time people hear the song, they’ll listen to the first verse, then turn to another song without listening to your verse ever again!
After a long thought process, I decided to take the title of the song – “Killed the Beat” – literally. I mapped it out like I just got confronted by the cops for actually “killing” the track, i.e. doing such a good job on it that I murdered it and had to be taken to trial. I don’t want to give too much away here, but because I took the title of the song literally, I was able to come up with a pretty awesome scenario for the verse that would, unbeknownst to me at the time, pave the way for an equally impressive video idea later.
So far, this is my favorite “official” collaboration track that I’ve done, and one of my favorite songs on “The Next Black President” myxtape – er, mixtape!
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. In the first part of my verse, I sound kinda like Busta Rhymes when I say, “Shoulda SEEN the way I did it…” He always emphasizes his words like the way I said “seen,” and he’s one of my favorite rappers. I think I was thinking about his technique when I wrote that line.
2. My favorite line in the song: “…and I keep coming back like a porno star’s ass, riiiiight?” This is what rappers call a “double entendre.” I hate explaining rap lines, as I like people to get the insight on their own, but… this line is smart because I say “I keep coming back,” i.e. I continue to stay rapping, but in reference to the second half of the line – “like a porno star’s ass” – it’s funny because, in adult films, a woman will oftentimes end up having her partner’s man juice on (or in) her rear end. Yes, it’s a disgusting line, but it’s also quite clever and funny!
3. And yes, in case you’re curious, I was able to deliver this back to Myxtape within 24 hours. Once I came up with the rhyme, it took me two hours to type up, record, mix and master… and then I had to wait until the next day to go to Panera Bread to actually send it to him!
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT:
When putting together “The Next Black President” mixtape, I KNEW I wanted to add this song on it. I also knew that, despite not living anywhere near the artist I collaborated with for the track, I wanted to shoot a video to it.
I’ve actually had the video I idea for this song in mind for about a month, though I was only recently able to finalize my vision for the visual. Because the beat reminded me of something I’d hear out of a detective/spy movie, a la “James Bond,” I wanted to shoot a video where I was a policeman out looking for the person responsible for killing – what else? – a “beat” for a song.
I didn’t know it at the time I recorded my verse, but the scenario I painted in the song allowed me to further play off the whole “searching for the murder” theme. Originally, I was going to be a cop or a detective for the video, but I don’t have any of those types of clothes at my disposal, and I definitely was NOT going to buy them.
However, I DID have the right clothes to dress up like a suave spy! Black suit jacket? Check! Black pants? Check! Black tie? Check! White shirt? Check! Black shoes? Check!
Furthermore, doing the whole “spy” thing would allow me to get away with things in the video that cops and detectives can’t, like breaking into places unannounced. And who’s place would I be breaking into?
My alter-ego, of course! Yes, once again, I took on duel roles as both the spy AND A.P.T., the recording artist who “Killed the Beat.”
Incidentally, playing 3 roles in a video – spy, me, and director – is HARD work. Because I was interacting with myself, I had to mentally plan out my shots in advance. Furthermore, it was raining outside, and there were scenes where either the spy or my regular self would come in from the rain – but I couldn’t shoot those shots and then do a shot of me where I’m dry, as it would look odd when editing it later on.
I did about 43 takes for this video – easily the most takes I’ve done for a video since “Bust My G.A.T.” – and most of those were due to having to go back and re-film something as a result of forgetting how a previous shot I took wouldn’t match up with a current one.
As for Myxtape’s part – the guest artist on the track – I used pictures of him I found on his myspace page in the parts where I’m looking up info on A.P.T.’s laptop. I wanted him represented in some way in the video so he’d get some face exposure – hopefully this will help him get some views on his page, as he is a very talented artist!
Some Interesting Video Tibits:
There are actually so many interesting tidbits for this video, I have to try and remember it shot-by-shot…
1. As I’ve said before, I have NO help directing these videos. Every single camera angle was done using a chair, a suitcase, an ironing board, and mini-boxes, all stacked in different ways and angles to get the shots I wanted.
2. The phone ring song is “C.R.E.A.M.” byWu-Tang clan. Yes, I actually have that song as a ringtone on my phone!
3. Anything you hear where my voice sounds extra clear was done in post-production.
4. Somehow, a good majority of my videos have bathroom shots. What the dilly, yo?!?
5. For the part of the video where I chase myself into my room, I had to film myself in A.P.T. clothes running into the room, then allow the camera to keep filming while I changed into my spy gear. This is why the shot looks so seamless!
6. It was raining HARD for most of this shoot. However, when it came time to me to film the part where I’m outside as the spy, it had stopped raining. Talk about good timing!
7. Incidentally, I had the entire shoot for this thing mapped out in my head, and didn’t shoot it in the order it’s seen on film. However, this did cause a few problems. There were certain shots I couldn’t use or had to cut short to keep the continuity of the video in tact. For example, the shot of me coming into the house as A.P.T. had a full shot of me opening the door. However, when I did that, you could see the screen door behind it. The problem, however, is that at the end of the video I shot it to where it looked like that door didn’t exist. Therefore, I couldn’t show the whole shot of me coming in because people would wonder later why there was no screen door when I finally get caught!
Also, there’s a shot where, after rolling into the house to look for evidence, I roll back up and walk into the next room. However, in that shot, the cardboard box is still on the plastic holder. If you remember, that same box got knocked over when I went to look for evidence. Therefore, the other shot couldn’t be used.
8. Estimated time for editing: a LONG time. Like, about 8 or 9 hours, mostly due to adding in post-production sounds.
That’s all for now – only 21 more videos to go! See ya next week!