This week’s video is for the song “Ahead of the Rest,” produced by Vybe Beatz.
AVAILABLE ON A.P.T.’S “Welcome 2 Cali” Mixtape! Click HERE for download info!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
This is one of those songs where the ideas and lyrics for it came together rather quickly. I was listening to beats over at Soundclick.com one day (for another project I’m working on that’s music-related but not A.P.T.-related) and when I came across this beat on producer Vybe Beatz page, I instantly liked it.
The name of the beat was called “Ahead of the Rest,” and I could hear why: it sounded like an instrumental that could have been used in a “Rocky” movie, very victorious-sounding in nature. I downloaded it, and figured it would be a while before I thought up a chorus to it… but lo and behold, not long after I downloaded it, I had a chorus in my head!
Once I have a chorus for a beat, thinking up lyrics is usually pretty easy. Since my chorus went with the theme of the title of the beat, i.e. being ahead of everybody else, all the lyrics of my song had to do was back that statement up.
And, not to brag, but within the last year, the amount of things I’ve been able to experience as a result of having a hit song… well, okay, so I haven’t really experienced a lot. But, in comparison to the majority of people trying to get in the business, the fact that I’ve been able to do radio interviews, gain fans, and go from living in ATL to Cali and spend all my time and focus on building up my own business definitely puts me ahead of the majority. Thus, the song is rather fitting to my current – and, hopefully, future – way of life!
In terms of writing the song, the original plan was to collaborate with another person on the song. I sent it to an MC named ____ who isn’t that well known but is hard on his grind right now. He puts up songs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on his Facebook page, and, since the stuff he talks about is “real,” I figured he’d be a good match for the song. Unfortunately, he never sent his verse back to me! Luckily, while riding the bus one day I suddenly started thinking of words for a second verse, so it worked out good. Still, my song is only two verses long, but the original beat goes on for a 3rd verse, so if he decides to jump on there WILL be a remix!
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. Since this is a “bragging” song, I tried to add in as many funny metaphors as I could to further the humiliation of my rap “opponents” who aren’t as far ahead in the game as I am.
2. The quote – “But I won’t let them take away my energy” – is sung in the style of Keri Hilson’s “Energy” song. I point this out because I don’t know how many people heard that song – it’s an okay song, but I wanted to switch up me rapping for a small mock-singing part.
3. The hardest part of the song to write was the last two lines. I knew I had to end it with a good punchline, but thinking of something that rhymed with “Atlas” that would still be funny was HARD. Once I had it, though, it was a RAP! (Get it? A “rap?” Ha ha!)
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT
I actually shot a video for this LAST week using my green screen blanket. Unfortunately at the time, I hadn’t quite figured out (a) how to get the right lighting so that shadows wouldn’t appear on it; (b) how to hang said blanket without having wrinkles show up on it (thus making it a biznitch to try and remove later); and (c) how to edit it all together. So, instead, I put up the “I Get Honeys” video (which has been doing well so far – no surprise there since it’s a parody of a 50 Cent song) and prayed to God that I’d be able to figure out how to edit a green screen video by this Sunday.
Lo and behold: I was blessed with another green screen, only this one was made of a material that couldn’t wrinkle. I was also blessed to get the right lights to use to make the screen the same color, and finally learned how much distance I need to have away from the screen so my shadow won’t be all over the place.
Prior to re-filming the video on the new green screen, I started looking back at some of my older videos. One of my favorite songs I’ve made was one called “Back to the Future,” a song where my present self calls up my future self to ask him if his future is going to be better than his life in the “now.” My future self assures his “previous” self that things in his future will be even better than he can imagine.
I thought about this video, and how, much like I said to myself back then, things had definitely gotten better for me. So, I thought it would be cool if my present self was now where my future self was in THAT video, and he calls him back up to tell him (a) that he was right, and that (b) how his life improved.
Of course, since it’s still “present” me calling up “future” me, it means that “future” me has to be doing even BETTER in his “now” than “present” me is doing. The video ends with “future” me telling his “previous” self to get ready for even MORE great things… but of course, he can’t tell him exactly how that’ll happen. Why? ‘Cause that chapter of my life hasn’t actually been written yet – but it will be!
As for the green screen: since this was my first video using it, I wanted to make the background simple. So, I found a bunch of pics that correlate with some of the lyrics of the song, as well as pics that give images of people being victorious. I placed those pics together in a nice little video by themselves in my iMovie program to go along with the song; then I deleted the song, and exported the picture video by itself. I was able to import that movie into the green screen background using my FXHome VisionLab Studio software. With the help of a few instructional YouTube videos, I was able to figure out how to remove the green screen and add in the picture video background.
The only problem I encountered was trying to figure out why the picture video – which was 3 minutes and 54 seconds – kept stretching out to almost 5+ minutes when I placed it under the video of me in front of the green screen. Turns out, since the green screen video was over 5 minutes it was trying to match itself up with it. However, there were parts of the beginning and ending of the video that didn’t have song parts, so all I had to do was click on the picture video’s file and make it go faster, i.e. back to its original link.
Yeah… so, all of the above was technical mumbo jumbo, but I know there are people who may read this and want to know what I use when I edit all this stuff.
All in all, a great video, and one that didn’t really take that long to edit – those are the best kind!
Some Interesting Video Tidbits:
1. I took another subliminal shot at Tyga in this video – I show his picture during the part where I say, “These carbon-copy mini-me’s tryn’a ruin my synergy.” Why? ‘Cause he took my dang song and toured with it AND made money off it w/o giving me credit, and I’m still bitter about that sh-t, okay?!?
2. The phone “present” me is holding is actually one of the early cell phones from the 1990s.
3. In the video for “Back to the Future,” I had the scenes with “future” me edited using an effect that… well, I forget what it was called, but it took away all color and only left an outline of figures. I did it that way to sybolize how people have an idea of what they want their future to look like (i.e. the outline) yet don’t always have the facts yet to see how that outline will be filled in. For this one, I used the X-ray effect for “future” me’s scenes. Why? Because my MAC doesn’t HAVE said outline feature like my PC did. Yeah, it’s really THAT simple of an explanation. Oh well – at least with the X-ray effect you still don’t get a detailed look at everything surrounding me.
4. The food on “future” me’s plate? Plastic fruit. I figured I’d be using an effect that would cover up whatever it was I was eating, and I didn’t feel like making real food. Actually, that’s a lie – I don’t have any real food in my apartment at the moment because I haven’t gone grocery shopping this week!
5. There’s a line where I say, “Some rappers spend their lives tryn’a do what I been doin’,” and there’s a picture of a guy in the background wearing an NYC hat. He’s a rapper named “Papoose.” Yes, that part of the video is a slight dig, not just at him, but at ALL those rappers who were hyped up to be the “next best thing” yet couldn’t manage to get a hit the public could grab on to. Meanwhile, I wasn’t even TRYING, and managed to come up with a worldwide SMASH. Thus, the line, and thus, Papoose’s picture.
6. I actually shot footage of me rapping this song as “future” me, but I didn’t include it because (a) given how my MAC program doesn’t always edit out the sound when I add too many clips – even if I mute it – I didn’t want this to become an editing nightmare, and (b) after placing in the footage of me with the pics in the background, I realised that having the pictures change up would be enough of a distraction to make people “feel” like the scene was constantly changing. Yes, the mind really IS that stupid.
7. There are parts of the video where my blue vest becomes fuzzy, or shows static colors similar to the picture behind me. The reason for this is simple: my Kodak camera, for all it’s been able to do for me, isn’t techincally designed to be doing high-end camera work. As a result, it sometimes shoots stuff whereby the light reflectants show up. In this case, since some of those light reflectants are green, and I used the FXHome program to key out all green colors, any green that reflects onto my vest gets taken out as well, thus having me look like I have holes in my body. Can’t wait to get a REAL high-def camera, people!
8. Estimated editing time for this video… it doesn’t seem like it took a long time, but I know with editing out the green screen and figuring out how to sync everything, that part easily took 2 hours. After that, pasting everything together didn’t really take that long – I did most of it while watching SNL, so that’s about another hour and a half… so, 3.5 hours in all!
That’s all for now! This song will be available on my NEW mixtape, “Welcome 2 Cali,” available Sunday, April 26, 2009! See ya next Sunday!