Today’s music insight is for my new video “Black President,” a parody of Tyga’s “Rack City.”

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INSIGHT INTO A SONG:

In 2008… geez, how many times have I told this story on this site?? Look, just click on the “Obama Milli Remix” link at the top of the page for the full story.

Anyway, the “Obama Milli Remix” song was a huge success. Back then, I knew there’d be an election coming up in 4 years, which would mean Obama would be running for re-election.  I didn’t know if I’d be making any more Obama-related parodies… okay, let’s be real: I knew I’d make some more – heck, I made a decent amount of money off the sales from the first song I did – but I didn’t want to make songs that would feel forced.

Fast-forward to January 2012. New year, new songs out that are banging. Right now one of the more popular rap songs out is Tyga’s “Rack City,” a song with an infectious-yet-simple beat and a chorus that is instantly singable.  I’ve had some beef with Tyga for a while now – mostly ’cause he took the remade “A Milli” beat I made with my voice singing “O-bama O-bama” on it and made his own Obama song without my permission OR recognition – but just ’cause I don’t like him personally doesn’t mean I can’t admit when he makes a good song.

So, while I didn’t want the parody I made to be with one of his songs… well, it’s in the top 10 on Billboard and it’s catchy, so I did it anyway!

Plus, the song just came to me so easily. I was walkin’ around singing the “Rack City” part of the chorus, and just started singing “Black President, Black – Black President.” It fit so well, and I knew at that point I had a song.

It’s a short song – only 2 minutes and 37 seconds long – so I didn’t have to write too much. With the previous song I had to think up 3 verses worth of material dealing with him running for office; this one was easier because all I had to do was pull from various things he’s gone through as President, in only 2 verses. The rhyme pattern on this one was also much, MUCH simpler than the one for “A Milli” was; with the latter I had to practice non-stop to get it, whereas this one has more of a straight flow to it.

Despite the easiness of writing the song, recording it was a biznich.  I’m much more particular these days about how my songs sound when I record them, so I’m always critiquing my recordings for little mistakes here and there. I didn’t want to double-up my voice on the verses or make it sound like there were any pauses in recording, which meant I had to do the main recording line of the song in one take. The main problem ended up being with my microphone – specifically, it’s so powerful that it can pick up little noises, including the humming sound coming from my laptop motor.  It took me forever to figure out how to create a sound barrier that would significantly lessen the sound coming from it. (Note: I still need to buy a longer reach for my microphone and build a full-on soundproof box to place it in for when I record.)

Once I finally got it right, I turned up the automatic tuning on my voice (to make it sound somewhat auto-tuned) and voila! Song complete!

Some Interesting Song Tidbits:

1. A few lines in the song got changed last minute. For example, I had the line: “Two kids, heck no he ain’t celibate” to match the line in Tyga’s song: “F–kin’ all night, n!@@a we ain’t celibate.” It got changed to me rapping about how Michelle Obama could “Knock your lights out, you don’t wanna take a hit (Pow!)”. I changed it mostly ’cause the first line I had written sounded awkward.  I also did a major retooling of the last 4 lines of verse two – originally I had the lines: “Oh, man, what do I do? Killed Osama and we still not cool…” etc. However, I’m a stickler with trying to rhyme as many of the words with words that were in the original song, and “do” and “cool” don’t rhyme with “racks” and “bad”.

2. The lines in the song about Obama visiting Roscoe’s chicken and waffles was a last-minute addition. I already knew I wanted to mention the Al Green thing where he sang some verses at Apollo theater, and was trying to fit it in in the place where the Roscoe’s part now is.  It ended up working better the other way around.

INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT

Once I finished writing the song, I began envisioning how I wanted to shoot the video. My first thoughts always go to green screen; however, at the moment I don’t have it set up and didn’t feel like waiting. Plus, I noticed that most of my videos have a bunch of stand still shots in them where the camera isn’t moving – in part, because I don’t often have someone else who can hold the camera for me.

So, I placed up a Facebook status saying I would pay someone $25 to follow me around with a camera. Lo and behold, my friend Sasha – who’s shot videos for and with me before (see: “Big Moochin’ Fella,” “Teach Me How to Snuggie”) – hit me up and said she was down to shoot!

We only went two places, but were able to get a lot of good shots. The first was Fox Hills mall; we shot in two parking lots, and in front of a J.C. Penny’s wall. The second was Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles – not the one Obama actually went to, but a new one that just opened near my apartment (I’m all for saving gas money and not going too far to shoot stuff if possible). I wanted a shot of me eating the chicken and waffles, so we went there and actually ordered some food just so I could get it filmed.

Once I got the filmed shots I needed, i went home and downloaded various Obama news and/or event clips off YouTube to add to my video. A couple of days later, and the video was done – and came out hilarious!

Some Interesting Video Shoot Tidbits:

1. The one thing I forgot to research prior to going to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles was what President Obama ordered when he went there. Sasha suggested I get the “Succulent Breast and Waffle” (that’s what it says on the menu, lol); I was leaning towards getting some dark meat. I decided to get the #9, i.e. 3 wings and a waffle. When I got home, I researched it and discovered that the President had ordered the EXACT SAME THING when he was there!! What are the odds?!?

2. I like dancing in my videos because… well, I won’t be able to dance like I do now forever, so it’s nice to have it documented 🙂

3. The girl walking in front of me that I try to “dance” with is Sasha. Her cameo was an improved idea by me while I was in the midst of my dance sequence. She’s also the fist responsible for punching me in the face.

4. At the end of the video, you see me on camera with a Hampton University T-shirt. This is my alma mater. More importantly, though, during the last campaign I had hoped they would hit me up and ask me to perform “Obama Milli Remix,”  but I hadn’t worn anything in the video that indicated I went to the school! So, for this year, whenever I do an Obama-related song, I’ll have the HU paraphernalia on somewhere in it. Hopefully they’ll reach out to me this time!

And that’s it! Watch the video, download the song, and share it with your friends today!

– A.P.T.

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