Today’s song insights are for the video “Obama Milli Remix 2012 (A Milli Parody)!” (Directed by Joe Hollywood)
AVAILABLE ON “THE O-BAMA MIXTAPE II: VOTE OBAMA STYLE,” available on iTunes – to preview/download, click HERE!
INSIGHTS INTO A SONG:
Well… okay, if you’ve been to this site enough times, I’ve already talked about how HUGE of an impact my original “Obama Milli Remix” had, not just on the election, but on my life as well. When I made the first song 4 years ago I was living in Atlanta trying to get into the entertainment industry so I could make music and/or do behind the scenes work. Thanks, in part, to the song, I’m now living in California working as a video editor/creative consultant and still making music. Yes, dreams really DO come true…
Anyway, during these last 4 years I’ve received one question from countless fans of the song: “WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO DO A REMIX FOR THIS ELECTION?”
Initially I didn’t feel the need to do one. And, to be honest, I still don’t think it’s necessary. The song I did was a parody of a Lil’ Wayne song called “A Milli,” which was at the height of its popularity back in 2008 when I made my version. The thing about parodies is that they are normally only so popular for so long, and with the people of the generation that were around when the song came out. It’s 4 years later, so even though “A Milli” is still a great song, it’s nowhere near as popular as it once was.
Subsequently, me doing a re-remix of my parody would not necessarily have the same impact as a newer parody song about Obama would. For example, my newer parody about Obama – “Vote Obama Style” – became successful because the song it parodies, “Gangnam Style,” is the “it” song of the moment. As for “A Milli,” there may be some kids today (yes, 4 years later) who haven’t even heard the song before.
So, why do an update?
For one, it was fan-requested. The original song got well over 15 million spins on YouTube and continues to get re-posted every so often. I try to stay humble about how big the song was, but people really DID gravitate to it and continue to play it, so I figured this would be like a “thank you” to all who enjoyed my song the first time around.
The second reason: I have better equipment now than I did 4 years ago. Back then I had an HP laptop, a radio mic and PC’s sound recorder program to record on. The song came out good, but some of the vocals weren’t that crisp and I didn’t know about things like reverb, pitch, or other audio-editing things. With the updated version, I finally have a version of the song that sounds professional, and could be played over a sound system at a club without too many audio problems.
And the third reason? I needed one more parody song for my mixtape, and couldn’t think of any other parodies to record outside of the ones I had already recorded. Heck, I still get monthly sales off the first one, so why not make an updated one and get even MORE sales?
The updated version keeps in about 75% of the original version’s lyrics. The only things I had to change in the song were the parts where I talked about Obama’s 2008 opponent, John McCain. All of those got changed to Mitt Romney references. Other than that, it’s basically the same song – different introduction (Michelle Obama introducing him at the DNC Convention instead of Al Gore) and a few “2012” mentions, but basically the same song.
Some Interesting Song Tidbits
1. The last 4 lines of the first verse had to be changed. In the original one, I talked about him beating Hilary in the primaries. Obviously, Obama didn’t have to face any other opponents this year from his own party, so I had to change them up with lines about Romney instead.
2. I debated on whether or not to keep the line in about how I’d “hit” (i.e. get freaky with) Michelle Obama. I did it in the first version because I was mocking Lil’ Wayne, and figured it was a line he would say. However, some people were bothered by it (including my Mom) and viewed it as me being disrespectful towards the first lady. In the end, though, I decided to keep the line in for this one, adding in “I’d STILL hit.” It still sounds like something Lil’ Wayne would say, and I still find it to be a funny way to end the second verse.
3. I also changed up the lines about Oprah supporting him. I wanted something there that sounded more updated, so I threw in a couple lines about him being the reason we found and killed Osama Bin Laden.
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT:
Aside from updating the sound quality of the original, I also wanted to do a slightly better video. The one I made 4 years ago was me in front of a blanket I hung up in my studio apartment, along with 3 “Vote for Obama” pictures I printed off in my printer, dressing up in 3 different outfits and doing the song. I filmed it on a Kodak picture camera that just happened to have 6MB video quality, and edited the whole thing on an HP laptop that wasn’t built for video editing – and on Windows Move Maker, no less!
Oh, how times have changed.
Now, I have access to HD cameras, 2 Macs (laptop and a desktop), Final Cut Pro X for video editing, a green screen, and I live in Cali, where there are tons of backdrops to choose from when filming.
Bottom line: I wanted to make a video version of this song that was more colorful, had more flavor to it and looked crystal clear. And so that’s what I did – me, along with my friend/director Joe Hollywood, found a couple of places around town that had nice, colorful backdrops where I could recite the words of the song and dance around. Even though we were updating the video, I still wanted to keep it relatively simple. “Vote Obama Style” was shot in so many places, but sometimes I just want 2 or 3 shots I can use and jumble up into something that still looks nice.
Once we filmed my parts, I still had to go online and find various media clips and pictures to place in the video. The funnest part for me, though, was the color correction: I wanted each shot to have its own style to it, so when put together they all look dynamic despite their simplicity. That’s why I did some really tricked out stuff, like making myself look green during my “on the wall” shots or fuzzing out the screen in the shots where I’m in front of the “Obama 2012” banner.
Now that the video is done… it’s kind of bittersweet, ’cause it feels like I’ve come full circle in terms of my journey with this particular song. I’ll have more songs and videos and successes in the future, but this will always be the song I remember as the one that started off everything for me. I’m glad I got to film a version of it that cements this sentiment for me!
Some Interesting Song Tidbits
1. The opening of the video – I tried to get this thing finished before the debates last night, but couldn’t. So, I watched the debates, during which Mitt Romney made a comment about cutting funding for PBS and Sesame Street. Instantly, there were memes and pictures online of Big Bird being in dire straights about the whole thing. Because of this, I thought it would be cool to include a “Special Message” from Big Bird at the beginning to open up the video.
2. The Obama mural I’m dancing in front of was painted at a high school near downtown L.A. 3 years ago. Joe found it online and thought it would be good for us to use for the video. We went to the school on a Saturday, found the painting… and the rest is history!
3. The wall I’m dancing on top of was located behind a Subway restaurant off La Brea and… crap, I forget the cross street!
4. I went online to find another mural to dance in front of. It was a painting of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and President Obama, and had a red backdrop. However, we were dismayed to find that the painting had been painted over by another mural – one with the Presidents of Mount Rushmore! However, I liked the colors used in the painting, and it had a picture of Lincoln, who Obama is a fan of. Plus, I didn’t feel like going around town looking for other Obama murals that may or may not be there were we to go.
5. HAMPTON UNIVERSITY SHOUT-OUT!! When I made the first version, I had wanted to perform the song later that year at Homecoming. However, despite the popularity of the song on my former Home By The Sea, no one knew that the person who made the song had gone to the school! So, I wore my HU Alumni shirt in this version just in case someone from the school sees this video and wants to put me on the performance list for homecoming this year….
6. There’s a 2-second scene in this video where the DNC donkey is jumping on the RNC elephant. That lil’ scene took me almost an hour to put together. I had to go online and find a picture of a donkey, an elephant, a stage, and a podium, then maneuver the donkey to look like he was jumping up and down. I mention this because people always ask me why I charge $35 an hour for editing, and it’s because the creative aspects of putting together a video really DO take a whole lot of time. Even with the color schemes I picked out for each shot, I spent at least 30 minutes each getting the colors I wanted right.
7. The blue striped shirt and black pants are the very same ones I wore in the first video – consider it an homage if you will. The only other thing borrowed from the first video is the picture of Barack Obama with a bucket of KFC chicken in front of him.
8. At one point, I do the hammer back-and-forth dance on top of the wall. Joe requested this, and it was easy to do, but I still felt like I might fall off at any minute!
And that’s it! Hope u enjoy, and I’ll see y’all on the next video!