This week’s video is for the song, “What Had Happen Was,” produced by ME!
Available on A.P.T.’s “The Great Black Hope” album – Click HERE for download info!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
During the time I was coming up with songs for “The Great Black Hope” album, I was still living in Northern VA, working as a server at Chili’s Restaurant. There’s a lot of downtime at these jobs when the server is waiting for a customer, especially near the beginning of a shift, and it was during these times I would either walk around thinking up song lyrics or talking to some of my co-workers.
One afternoon, I walked into the kitchen area to find a fellow server named Joe telling a story about something that had happened at a party the night before. He began the story by saying: “Well, what had happen was…”
I don’t know what it was, but something in the way he said it made me (a) laugh, and (b) think it would be a good idea for a song. I’ve heard that phrase hundreds of times, but this was the first time I heard it said that made me think it would make for a great chorus!
After he said it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the day. I kept repeating it over and over again in my head – “What had happen was… what had happen was…” – and eventually made it into a full-on chorus that was catchy!
What made it even better is that I already had a beat in mind for the chorus – it was a jazzy-type beat I had already made using a horn sample I’d gotten from one of my brother’s friends favorite musicians. The part where the verses would go were beat-box like while the chorus was a long, drawn out horn, with a drum pattern that would definitely fit the groove of the song!
Once I have a chorus and a beat down for a song, I HAVE to make it into a song. With a title idea like “What Had Happen Was,” I thought about going in a few directions. The first one was to have each verse tell a mini-story of something that goes wrong, and when someone asks me about it, I’d go into the “what had happen was” chorus. The second idea was to have the song be one long story, where each part of the story would coincide with things happening during one day. Something would go wrong in each segment, with the chorus once again being me reiterating the same sentiment.
But, neither of those ideas were fully developed, and I was having a hard time thinking up a story/scenario to write about. So, I marinated on the idea for 3 weeks while I wrote other songs.
Finally – like, one day before I decided to record it, and about 3 days before the album was to be released, I came up with an idea!
Actually, part of the idea came from a conversation I had with my Mom about girls and dating. I think I asked her a question about why some girls don’t mind dating a guy even when, while chasing after his dream, he doesn’t have a lot of money. To which she replied: “Some girls can just sense when a man is about something, and can see that he’ll be successful later on based on how driven he is.”
That got me thinking about the past year, where I had already been successful doing things many of the girls back in college never thought I’d actually do (get a song on radio, be interviewed, make music videos, etc.). Then, it dawned on me that I was able to do all this stuff despite not having any connections to the music industry OR radio people.
THEN, I started thinking about all the people who DO have those types of connections, yet still aren’t (a) famous, or (b) at the very least having a song of theirs played on worldwide radio. And, in thinking about what their response would be if I were to ask them what their excuse for all this was, the only answer I could see them coming up with was…
“What had happen was… what had happen was…”
THAT’s when I knew I had a song idea!
The song is split up into 5 parts, with the first three verses being 8 bars, the breakdown verse being 8 bars, and the last verse being 16 bars.
In the first verse, I talk about how much drive I have, as evident by making videos with a small Kodak instead of being lazy like other MCs.
In the second verse, I mention how I was able to get noticed unlike other MCs who, despite their connections with DJs who promote them, still aren’t that well-known.
In the third verse, I talk about “Obama Milli” (you KNOW I had to) and how, despite my less-than-stellar recording equipment, I was able to do what most MCs who are signed can’t even do: get radio play, ringtones made, and club heads boppin’ to my song, WITHOUT having to do much advertising.
In the breakdown, I go through a litany of excuses non-successful people use, and tell them to get over it because ALL people who become successful go through problems too.
In the fourth verse – the longest of the 5 – I breakdown the REAL reason they’re using excuses, mention the line my Mom told me about “ladies sensing when a man is about something,” give them a verbal jabbing about how much “bread” I have (not completely true yet, but I’m getting closer than they are!), and mentioning to them one more time that, if I could go from broke to not broke, they have no REAL excuse.
The song is JAMMIN’, and one of my favorite ones off my new album, “The Great Black Hope!”
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. Now that I’m getting attention to my videos, I’m beginning to think about branding, i.e. what companies I’d like to sponsor me once I create a new music website. One of them is Kodak – for all my videos I’ve used their camera, and would like them to know about it. That’s why, when I do my credits on my videos now, I mention that the camera I’m using is by Kodak. There’s a line in this song where I say: “I make videos that’s been seen by millions/All from a Kodak.” Now I know why rappers mention products in their song – it’s good promotion for both the company and the artist!
2. The line in the second verse where I say: “How the heck your sorry behind still on the block/When you had DJ so-and-so yellin’ your name…” is in reference to the hundreds of MCs I see on TV who have a well-recognized DJ that’s supporting them (no specific names, ‘cause a LOT of DJs do this) and saying “OMG, they’re the next best thing coming out!”… yet those artists never drop an album because, though they might be a good freestyle MC, they can’t make a good single to save their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve made at LEAST 38, with two of them getting high recognition!
3. I mentioned “Obama Milli” in the 3rd verse for a few reasons: (a) because EVERYBODY knows me for that song; (b) because people always ask me how I recorded it (which is mentioned briefly in this verse); and (c) because there are people making songs in expensive studios who can’t even get their Momma to play it, while my lil’ home recording got played in different countries. Seems like a good thing to mention when talking about my success!
4. My favorite line in the song: “I gets that dough, that cake, that bread…” To hear the rest of the line, play the video!!
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT:
It took me a couple of weeks before I figured out how I wanted the video for this song to look. Then, it dawned on me: since it’s a video motivating people to make their own success, why not do it like one of those “You Can Do It, TOO!” DVDs/programs!
So, that’s what I did: I set it up to look like a motivational DVD, where “successful A.P.T.” is giving a motivational talk to the viewer AND to the unsuccessful musician in the video, “thug A.P.T.” Yes, people, I get to be a thug! I didn’t think I could pull it off, but now that I’ve grown a beard I almost look authentic playing one!
The shots were very easy: I did a take of me sitting at a table for the first verse, in front of a microwave for the second verse, on the couch for the third verse, at a piano keyboard for the fourth verse, at a laid-back rocking chair for the fifth verse, then back to the kitchen table for the outro.
Mixed in with that footage are shots of me in thug pose, reacting to what “successful A.P.T.” is saying. I also wanted to throw in some hilarious footage of “thug A.P.T.” as it pertained to lyrics in the song. Thus: the shot of me looking “bummy” while reading a Playboy magazine; a shot of me recording with a studio mic; and a shot of me knocking on a door “outside, beggin’ to get fed.”
And, to give it that video feel, I added in some grainy effects in post-production!
Overall, this was a fun video shoot! I haven’t done a video with a “real” plot since video #34 (“Can’t Leave Rap Alone”), and I hope you all enjoy it!
Some Interesting Video Shoot Tidbits:
1. Near the end of the video, there is some fancy footwork going on where I shot my feet doing dance moves. They’re pretty impressive, and they’re done by me – no dance doubles necessary!
2. There’s a shot of me banging on the door outside. I had to shoot this twice because, in the first take, you can see my apartment number. Definitely do NOT need people to know where I live!
3. The “doo rag” on “Thug A.P.T.’s” head is actually a black shirt. Gotta work with what I have, man!
4. For the microwave shot, I was able to place a camera in there AND a bowl of oatmeal because the microwave has a shelf in the middle. And yes, that is REAL oatmeal – it’s my favorite snack! (And, for those of you who know me and might be curious to ask: NO, there is no applesauce in there – I had used the last of it on a previous oatmeal bowl L )
5. As you can tell, I’m not actually playing the keyboard in the video. Come to think of it, there aren’t any keyboard or piano sounds in the song. Why the heck did I make that shot?!?
6. The picture of the microphone in the video is the actual one I’ve been using since December 2007. It’s main purpose is actually for talk radio recordings, but it does a decent job of recording my song for now…
7. …speaking of: the studio mic used by “Thug A.P.T.” is a REAL studio mic I own. However, my Compaq Presario isn’t built to handle the amount of power it takes to use, so – until I get a MAC – it’s just sitting around…
8. The Playboy magazine in the video is the ONLY girlie magazine I own. I don’t really like to pay for porn (they get my money, and – aside from good visuals – they give me nothing in return). However, the issue in question had the beautiful Garcelle Beauvais in it (she played Foxy in “The Jamie Foxx Show”), and interviews with Paul Rudd and Chris Tucker, who hadn’t done a magazine interview in YEARS. Wow – I really DID buy it for the article!!
9. Editing this video was a NIGHTMARE. I got up early – 8 AM – so I’d have time to edit it, and it took me almost ALL DAY due to my computer either stalling, not wanting to start, slowing down, or not playing back a part of the video after I had added a clip. I can’t stress this enough people – I. NEED. A. MAC. Send your donations!
That’s all for now – Only 14 more videos left to go! See ya next Sunday!