This week’s video is for the song “I Need a Job and I’m BROKE (Mobb Deep Freestyle).”
AVAILABLE ON A.P.T’S “WELCOME 2 CALI: THE MIXTAPE!” Click HERE for download info!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG
It’s funny to look back at my past and see just how crappy things used to be for me. Okay, so it’s not really funny like “ha ha” funny, but it’s still quite interesting…
It was 4 years ago this week that I had graduated from Hampton University with a degree in Theatre Arts. After I graduated, I went to stay with my uncle in Lansdale, P.A., during which time he helped me out by giving me a job in his sales office selling Rainbow vacuum cleaners. Not exactly the glamorous life, but it gave me a chance to spend time with my two younger cousins (Samantha and Sheldon), and work on becoming a better orator with people by constantly having to talk to them via my sales presentations.
Unfortunately, I sucked at sales.
Like, I would try with all my might to sell people on the product we were selling – which I even OWNED and used all my life – but I just wasn’t able to persuade enough people to buy it for the price we sold it at. By November, my contribution in terms of sales was next to nothing, yet I was still living at my uncle’s house using up his food, electricity, water, etc. Things only got worse when I could no longer afford my car payments, and ended up having to get a hand-me-down car that ate up gas faster than I could pay to re-fill the pump.
Then, one night – like at about 12 midnight – my uncle came in and said I could no longer live with him, and that I had to leave. At that moment. Like, at 12 midnight.
I got into my raggedy car and pondered where I could go. The only place I could even think of going was back home to Richmond, VA, to my Mom’s house. All I could hope was that my car would survive the 6-hour long trip through the night that it would take to get me there. Lo and behold, it did: I got there the next morning just as my Mom was heading out the door to work… so you can imagine how surprised she was to see me at her front door telling her the story of why I had to come back home.
Luckily, I have a Mom who is nice and understanding, and she said I could stay there…
Okay, I’m sure at this point you’re wondering: WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE FRIGGIN’ SONG?!?
Well, once I got home, I immediately set out to look for jobs… but it was wintertime, and most of the jobs had already been taken up for Christmas holiday. Once the beginning of the year came around, the only job I had was as an actor for a dinner theatre troupe which only did plays on Friday and Saturday, and not for much money. I spent a good majority of my day at home, looking for jobs on the Internet that either wouldn’t require me to have a car (since the car I had when I moved back home broke down on me in December) or that started late enough at night to where I could use my Mom’s car once she got off work. Unfortunately, this situation still wasn’t too ideal because with both of us using her car, it would mean I’d have to chip in to help keep it up – and, seeing as how I wanted to use the majority of the money to save up for a place of my own…
As you can see, the situation became quite stressful.
The times I wasn’t looking up jobs at home, I’d spend coming up with songs and recording them on my Mom’s computer. At some point in February of 2006 I found a set of beats on-line that were from popular songs, and decided to make freestyles to them. One of the beats I picked out was from a Mobb Deep song (can’t remember the name of the song now – I think it was “Put ‘Em in Their Place” or something). The beat just SCREAMED “please freestyle over me!” So that’s what I did!
The nice thing about freestyles is, if you do it the right way, you never know what you’ll say or where it will take you. When I heard the beat, all I knew was I wanted to talk about my “current” situation, but because the song wasn’t planned out in advance I didn’t know what I was going to say. I simply turned on the beat, plugged in my microphone, opened up Sound Recorder, pressed play/record, and let myself rip.
For a freestyle, though, this is easily one of the most linear and cohesive ones I’ve done in terms of staying on the subject matter. I ended up touching on the fact that I graduated, still had no job, had applied to places but hadn’t heard back from them, was down to using my Mom’s car, and – perhaps most importantly – that I couldn’t date like I wanted to because “You can’t invite chicks – over your Mom’s house!”
In fact, the freestyle was going so good, I probably would have added more to the song… but then the beat started to fade, so I knew I had to wrap it up. Thus, the spontaneous line at the end where I say, “I need a job – I’m broke!”
As one can tell from seeing where I am now, I was eventually able to move out, but even after this freestyle was recorded, it took until September before I was finally able to move to Atlanta, the result of many months of eBaying, acting, and bar-backing at a club. It’s nice to be able to listen to this freestyle now and know that I’m NOT in that same place!
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. There’s a part near the beginning where I say, “…that because of the school I went to, that no job/Would wanna TRY to hire me if it’s less than below what they think my means is..” The truth of the matter is, a lot of places won’t hire people they feel are “over-qualified.” I was applying to places like Fed-Ex, grocery stores, and other low-paying jobs (mostly because I wanted to have the freedom to quit should the whole acting/music thing take off), but they’d never call me back or hire me. My reasoning: they saw I graduated, and were probably scratching their heads as to why I wasn’t going for a job with more… whatever.
2. My mom will probably scratch her head at the part of the song where I say, “I’m trying to get my freak on while I’m getting my sneak on/because my Mom, can’t know what I’m doing on the weekend…” Ugh. In reality, I wasn’t doing anything provocative on my weekends while at the house (or anywhere else for that matter). The lyric is more in reference to the fact that, while I was in school I had my own place and could do whatever I wanted to do on the weekends, including invite girls over (which, again, didn’t happen for the most part). When living at home, though, I didn’t have the freedom to do those things even if I wanted to. Even if I just wanted to make out with a girl… ya never know when Mom might come home and catch you lip-lockin’ on the couch!
3. I got flustered near the end of the song. I didn’t know how long the beat was, but as I was saying, “…for not getting a real quote unreal degree…” I could tell the beat was starting to fade, and I lost my train of thought for a second because I now had to figure out a way to end the song. That’s what happens when a person’s REALLY freestyling, not just reciting some lines he wrote in a notebook earlier!
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT
When deciding on a video to do this week, I was faced with a BIG question: should this REALLY be my last video?
When I started this project, the goal was to do at least ONE video a week for 52 weeks, i.e. one WHOLE year. The problem, though, is that, during the process of making these videos, there were two weeks where I actually filmed TWO videos. The first one was in August, where I recorded a video for the Democratic convention (Video #15, “Shine 4 Obama”) and the second one was in January when, after George Bush left office, I recorded a song/video for “Goodbye Bush (Nah Nah Nah).” The latter wasn’t going to be an official video, but it proved to be so popular that I had to make it an official one.
With that said, this week is video #52, which would technically complete all the required videos, but not the parameters of the project since this would only be week 50. Yes, I am THAT much of a stickler for being exact about something!
However, in all my videos since #26 I’ve been counting down the number of videos I have left. What to do, what to do?!?
Then, after thinking about it, I realized that, for my “last” video, I could turn it into a trilogy of videos that all relate to each other!
And so, that’s what I decided to do: turn video #52 into three parts, a la “Star Wars.” In doing so, I figured it would be easiest to do so by dividing the three parts into a beginning, middle, and end journey of my own, from when I started making songs in Virginia all the way to finally being able to move out to California.
And what better way to start off the song trilogy by making a video for a song I actually recorded back in 2006 that gave an illustration of my then-current situation?!?
The best part was that the shoot for it could be very, very simple. Part of showing the “past” version of me is that I didn’t have all this fancy equipment that I had now, so making the video look basic in nature will provide great contrast to the videos I shoot later in the trilogy.
For this shoot, though, I wanted to re-create the day I recorded the freestyle in my Mom’s house. Just me, a desk, a microphone, a computer, and a lot of angst and unknown. I shot it in one take so people could get the feel of how the song came about, without making any distractions via video cuts and edits. It also made editing this thing SO friggin’ easy!
FYI: In case you’re wondering, I have NO idea what I’ll be shooting for the second part of this trilogy, but the third part (and song) is already chosen. All I can say is, it’s a song from my “Welcome 2 Cali” mixtape, so why not download it and take a listen?
Some Interesting Video Shoot Tidbits:
1. I wish I had a prop’s department. The only items on my desk from 2006 is the microphone – that’s the actual one I used to record the song. The laptop is from 2007, the phone is from the early 90s, the desk is one I just bought this year, and the sweatshirt I’m wearing… okay, that’s actually my Granddad’s sweater (R.I.P.) that I got in 2005, so me wearing that shirt is plausible.
2. I had to turn my desk to a different angle in my room because all the other angles would show off other parts of the room, which I didn’t live in back in 2006. At least with a desk and a wall, it’s believable that it COULD be my Mom’s home office!
3. To film at the angle I did, I had to place the box my MAC computer came in onto my futon. Yep, 52 videos later, I STILL have no one helping me film this stuff!
4. Because this is supposed to be me “in the past,” I decided to add the film grain effect. Everyone knows that film grain depicts past scenarios, right?
5. Estimated time for editing: less than an hour. The longest part was typing up this explanation!
That’s all for now! Stay tuned next week for part 2 of the “Video 52” trilogy!