Category: obama milli


So, my brother hits me up and says him and his brother-in-law were having a contest to see who was a better MC: Jay-Z (my brother’s pick) verses Eminem (his brother-in-law’s pick). How to do this? By having each person put together a CD of what they considered to be each respective emcee’s best songs… and then having ME listen to the CDs and determine a winner. So I did – and I gave the results by putting together a 13-minute video analyzing each CD’s strengths and weaknesses, then analyzing each song and coming up with a score for both that would determine the winner!

Check it out:

By the way, if you’re curious to see the numerical rankings of each song and album overall that helped me come to my conclusion, you can download this nice little PDF I’ve put together: Jay Z Eminem Contest

– Double A (formerly known as A.P.T.)

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Today’s insight is for the music video for the song “When Doves Cry” by A.P.T. (that’s me) and Kaptain Kutta, off our newest collaboration album, “Manifest Destiny: The Takeover mixtape!”

FREE Mixtape Preview/Download – available at www.ManifestDestinyHipHop.com!

INSIGHT INTO A SONG:

This song, “When the Doves Cry,” was one of the hardest ones to come up with for the mixtape. Kaptain Kutta had sent me the beat – a sampling of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” – and I knew it sounded like a hit. Only problem was what to actually do with it!

The beat has these Prince-sampled croons in the chorus part, and I wanted to come up with something that would allow those croons to make sense. Initially I had thought it would make for a good party song where we could talk about getting girls and making them make that sound… but since it’s a dude doing it, I thought it would make it sound kinda… odd.

And so, the beat sat there for 2 months while we worked on other songs. Then, about 5 days before we were supposed to release the album, I came up with an idea: what if, instead of being celebratory croons, they were croons of despair? Like, instead of having the croon be a sound a girl would make during intercourse, it could be more of a groan one makes when things aren’t going right in one’s life?

Once I changed my perspective and went this route, it was easier to come up with a theme for the song.

This song basically gives perspective of what I call “The Before Time.” It’s talking about the feelings and life situation one is going through right before they have their breakthrough and become famous. It’s a life where your job sux, girls won’t date you, and – worst of all – everyone keeps ignoring you and whatever it is you’re trying to put out because they just don’t think you have it.

The first 2 verses have Kaptain Kutta and I talking about various things one may go through during that period, while the third verse gives inspiration and hope to those still going through it. We wanted to end the song on this note so that people know that, even if they are going through a crappy period in their lives while trying to make it, that part will eventually pass if they just keep their eye on the prize.

Some Interesting Song Titbits:

1. My first line of the song – “It gets to the point where your friends won’t even listen to your sh*t” – was written for 2 reasons: one, because I’ve had it happen where I come up with a song I think it’s dope and my friends – supportive as they are – may not be in the mood to hear yet another A.P.T. song; and two, because I figured that, should they actually listen to this song, it would make their ears perk up and make them want to, ironically enough, listen to the whole song.

2. With the songs on the album I was making it a goal to give Kaptain Kutta and I equal amounts of time on each song, and it was no different with this song. However… I wrote the last 4 lines of the song where I’m rapping really fast with the idea that Kutta and I would say every other line. Unfortunately, the tone and pace at which the lines needed to be said weren’t able to match up when we both did it, so I ended up saying the whole thing instead.

FREE MIXTAPE DOWNLOAD – AVAILABLE AT www.ManifestDestinyHipHop.com

INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT:

I went to Atlanta for 2 days so Kaptain Kutta and I could shoot videos for the mixtape. This was the second video we worked on, and by far it was the easiest.

The idea was fairly simple: Kutta and I would be walking from our houses on the way to our cruddy jobs in a re-enactment of our “before” times, with me dressed up in a Quiznos outfit and him dressed in his outfit he wore when working at Kroger.

Because we were trying to film 5 videos in one day, we wanted to shoot videos that would be simple yet effective and meaningful. For this video, it was easy to keep it simple while getting our vision across. In short: we’re walking to the bus to go to work because we can’t afford cars. Also, since we wouldn’t have had a big budget to do a massive amount of editing, the shots and editing was kept simple as well, similar to how I would edit videos back in 2008 (I mean, if you really look at the “Obama Milli” video, there’s not much going on other than me in front of a blue screen and a lot of pictures being thrown up on screen to compensate).

Some Interesting Video Tidbits:

1. The house I’m walking out of is actually Kaptain Kutta’s place. The house/fence he’s walking from is a random abandoned house’s place.

2. The cars in the driveway are not owned by me or Kutta – one was his Mom’s, and the other was my friend Daren’s car.

3. Which reminds me: Daren was nice enough to be our third camera guy for when both Kutta and I were on screen at the same time. So, when you see me on screen it’s Kutta doing the filming; when you see Kutta on screen it’s me doing the filming; and when we’re both on screen it was Daren filming.

4. The original idea was to have Kutta and I walk around in the gear we used to work in. I worked at Quiznos at one point and brought that to dress in. However, Kutta did not have his Kroger apron. Therefore, it may appear that he either (a) works at Kroger, or (b) as a waiter in a restaurant. Either way… still works!

5. Editing time for this video was probably like 2 hours, and most of that was choosing what colors to use in the video. I decided I wanted it to look like a “back in the day” recording for most of it, so I chose monotone colors and a projector effect. For the third verse I wanted us to jump into the present time, so I abandoned that look and went with more vibrant colors.

And that’s it – hope you enjoy the video, and be sure to download the mixtape “Manifest Destiny: The Takeover Mixtape” for FREE at our website, www.ManifestDestinyHipHop.com!

– A.P.T.

Hey well-wishers! Okay, so I made this video 2 weeks ago and forgot to post it up here! Justin Timberlake’s newest album, “The 20/20 Experience,” leaked a week early, so I made an album review for it! Check it out!

-A.P.T.

Happy new year! Okay, enough of that – today’s video insight is for my NEW parody song, a spoof of 2 Chainz’ “I’m Diffrent” called “I’m Christian!”

ONLY 99 CENTS FOR DOWNLOADCLICK HERE!

INSIGHT INTO A SONG

When I first heard 2 Chainz’ “I’m Diffrent” song, I immediately started trying to think of a parody for it. The song was just too darn catchy to NOT be a hit, and even though it came out back in August, the song continues to bump heavily now and is still climbing the charts.

Around October is when I first thought of the idea to make a parody of it called “I’m Christian.” Not necessarily because I wanted to do a religious parody (though it had been on my mind for a while), but because it just fit so perfectly, and I knew I’d have tons of subject matter to talk about. However, since it was the holidays I had also considered turning the song into a spoof called “It’s Christmas” to take advantage of the holiday momentum. Eventually, I realized that “It’s Christmas” would only have relevancy during the holidays, whereas “I’m Christian” could rock all year, and tons of kids who went to church AND listened to worldly music would get a kick out of it.

It took me until January (like 2 weeks ago) to finally write and record the song; however, I was coming up with words, phrases and ideas for the song in bits and pieces for a few weeks. I’d be on a film set (I do background work here in L.A.) thinking up song verses and sending them to myself, or I’d be walking home and suddenly – BAM! – another verse would pop into my head and I’d be on my phone texting it out.

I wanted the song to be both funny AND enlightening. I placed a good amount of focus mentioning things that happen in the church that are funny (i.e. kids falling asleep, old ladies dancing, communion), but I also mention things like Jesus dying for our sins, having one’s spirit being happy, changing your life around, etc. All in all, I think I made a very well-balanced song – one that’s not too preachy and is funny, yet is respectful of God and what he can do for people’s lives!

Some Interesting Song Tidbits:

1. The easiest part of the song to write – which I thought would be the hardest – was the first part of the 2nd verse. In the original, 2 Chainz is rambling on about meeting girls at tellies and putting his stuff in her belly, but it’s the flow and his usage of words repeatedly I thought would be hard to duplicate. And then, when I was walking home one day, words just started coming to me, and I couldn’t type fast enough on my phone to put it in a text message and send it to myself. What I ended up writing just worked so well, and it only took about 5 minutes to come up with!

2. Like I said, the words of the song came together in bits and pieces, like a puzzle. I’d go a few days not even working on the song, then BOOM – I would have half a verse done in no time.

3. Trying to include as many church references as I could proved to be hard as I got close to completing the song. I wanted to mention the Bible, angels, preachers, kids falling asleep in church, and so much more, so fitting all that stuff in really became a matter of re-arranging ideas. The hardest one was trying to fit in communion, and the fact that most places use grape juice instead of wine. But I did, and it’s probably the funniest part of the song (at least to me).

4. Initially, I tried to imitate 2 Chainz’ voice. Turns out, my vocal range is slightly higher than his, so I just went for trying to say words like him instead.

INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT

All I knew was I wanted to film everything in front of the green screen. I recently moved to my own place where I have my green screen placed up in my living room, ready to use 24/7/365, and wanted to put it to good use.

What I didn’t know, though, was if I’d be able to get anyone else to be in the video with me (don’t I always say that?? LoL). Long story short, I got my friend Joe to be in it (’cause he’s in, like, almost ALL of my videos), plus some new women additions to the “A.P.T. Video Archives.”

In order to put the video together, I knew the backgrounds would be of utmost importance. I went on YouTube to see if anyone had background loops of church stuff I could use; it was a shot in the dark, but lo and behold: a media group called Muddy River Media (http://www.muddyrivermedia.org) had tons of free-usage backgrounds with spiritual content! I downloaded as many of them as I could to use in the video, along with pictures of things like churches, pews, seats, and other things for me and my guests to stand in front of.

And, of course, different backgrounds meant dressing up in different outfits! I must say, I got a LOT of new clothes over the holidays, so most of the stuff I’m wearing in the video isn’t stuff I’ve worn on camera before. I have about 4 or 5 outfits I wore for this video so there would be a variety in look.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! In a happy circumstance, I was able to get J. Anthony Brown – radio personality from “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” – to make a guest cameo in the video! He had called me to film something at his house, and was gracious enough to allow me to get some footage of him to use for my video. Appreciate the look!

Anyway… I can’t really say too much more about the video, other than I shot it as if I was doing a cable access show. So… check it out already!

Some Interesting Video Tidbits:

1. The girl in the black jacket – Destiny – looks like she’s wearing a church robe in the choir scene. But really, she’s just wearing her jacket backwards.

2. Also, none of the people in the choir scene were shot at the same time. I filmed each one individually because… well, they weren’t all here at the same time.

3. The original idea for the baptism scene was to through me in the pool. However, by the time we got ready to shoot the scene, it was nighttime, so the light wouldn’t have worked. Getting baptized in the kitchen also seemed like a funnier idea to me.

4. J. Anthony Brown’s scene is one of the few that doesn’t have a green screen background. However, the part of his house we filmed in front of – with a brown maroon curtain and a wall light candle – just happens to look like a wall a church may have!

5. Estimated editing time was… a LOT. I actually edited the flow of the backgrounds before I finished filming the video, so I was editing while filming. Let’s just estimate it at around 12 hours or so – at least that what it felt like!

That’s all for now! Enjoy the video, and be sure to get the song on iTunes!

-A.P.T.

Hey All:

The election is in two days! I’m already starting to see a spike in video views, song sales and blog traffic, so I figured I would put all my Obama-related stuff in ONE place for you guys to look at, buy, repost, retweet, email and share!

First off, all my current Obama songs can be found on my NEW album, “The O-Bama Mixtape II: Vote Obama Style!” Here’s the full track list:

  1. The Next Black President
  2. Vote Obama Style (Gangnam Style Parody)
  3. I ❤ Nicki Minaj
  4. Imma Fool Wit It feat. Kaptain Kutta
  5. I’m Never Ever Gonna Vote for Romney (We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together Parody)
  6. Words With Friends
  7. Pick Up Your Face feat. Snake Eyez and DJ-T
  8. Christmas in Paris feat. Non Juan (Ni**as in Paris Parody)
  9. Zone Out
  10. Your Mama Is So Ugly
  11. Obama Milli Remix 2012 (A Milly Parody)
  12. Rich Man’s World
  13. Ooh, I’m a Model feat. Genellyn
  14. Black President (Rack City Parody)

You can download this album or the individual songs from a plethora of online retailers – here are the links to all of them:

ITUNES – Click HERE!
AMAZON – Click HERE!
eMUSIC – Click HERE!
GOOGLE Play – Click HERE!

But wait! If you’d like to get the 99 cent “Vote Obama Style” ringtone, you can either go to the online link and get it (click HERE) or text VOTEOBAMASTYLE 1 to 69937!

Now, check out the videos for some of the album cuts below!

VOTE OBAMA STYLE!! (GANGNAM STYLE PARODY)

I’M NEVER EVER GONNA VOTE FOR ROMNEY (WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER PARODY)

OBAMA MILLI REMIX 2012 (A MILLI PARODY)

BLACK PRESIDENT (RACK CITY PARODY)

CHRISTMAS IN PARIS (NI**AS IN PARIS PARODY)

Thanks for all the views and shares, and don’t forget to VOTE OBAMA STYLE on Tuesday, November 6th!

-A.P.T.

Today’s insights are for my NEW music video, “I’m Never EVER Gonna Vote for Romney,” a spoofing of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!”

From the album “The O-Bama Mixtape II: Vote Obama Style!” Now available on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, and Google Play!

INSIGHT INTO A SONG:

After “Vote Obama Style” took off, I knew it would be smart of me to release an album soon after. I had a ton of songs from my previous mixtape, “Justin Beeber Must Die!!” that I knew I could use for purposes of the new album (since, admittedly, the album hadn’t been downloaded by hardly anybody). However, I also knew I needed to record a couple more Obama parodies in order to increase the chances of the album actually selling.

I already had “Vote Obama Style,” and back in January I had recorded “Black President (Rack City Parody).” Aside from an original song I had recorded called “The Next Black President” (from the “The Next Black President” mixtape) I had NO other Obama songs recorded.

So, I went to work. I updated my very first parody, “Obama Milli Remix,” into a 2012 version that mentioned Mitt Romney. However, I still wanted to record at least ONE more parody of a song that was most current. So, I went to Billboard.com to look up the Hot 100 songs in the country, and – at the time (waaaaay back a month and a half ago) – the number 1 song in the land was Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

The song is catchy as heck and it’s one of the FEW songs of hers that I like. However, what was even MORE appealing about parodying the song was the logistics and timing with which I could use the song to my advantage. The way I saw it, the album the song was on – “Red” – was going to drop on October 22. This meant I had time to give some more breathing room to the life of “Vote Obama Style,” drop a video for “Obama Milli Remix,” and then release the video for MY version of Taylor’s song on or around the release date of her new album. Genius!

And so, I decided on a title – “I’m Never Ever Gonna Vote for Romney” – and then… nothing.

At least for a little while. I knew I wanted to mention reasons why I wasn’t going to vote for Mitt, but I didn’t want it to just be me saying mean stuff about him for no reason. I don’t hate the man personally, I just don’t want him as my President, and that needed to be said in a way where even people who want to vote for him would be like, “Well, at least he gave a decent reason for not choosing him!”

As the release date for my album neared, it was becoming a bit harder than I though to write something for the song. And then, as luck would have it, I saw a video on YouTube where someone had placed together numerous video clips of Mitt Romney being a “flip-flopper,” i.e. someone who changed his views and/or positions on issues based upon what was best for his campaign. Abortion, raising taxes, amnesty – all issues that, at one point (or more!) Romney had changed his mind about.

And that’s when I realized what my reasoning in the song should be: he’s always changing his mind to appease voters, so he can’t really be trusted. PERFECT!

This was the last song I recorded for the album and, admittedly, due to the time constraint I had I recorded it pretty quickly. Once I knew what angle to come from, writing the song took about 20 minutes, then I started recording it right away.  The funnest part for me was having to harmonize with myself – this was the first country parody I’ve ever done, and since I rarely sing these days it’s fun when I have to use different octaves of my voice (especially on the “Meeee-EE!” part where one version of me had to sing in a high falsetto).

Once it was finished, I KNEW I had a hit. I was able to put it on the album, which I am definitely happy about…

Some Interesting Song Tidbits:

1. All of the things mentioned in the song are true – everything from Romney saying he wouldn’t raise the tax then turning around and saying he might, to him being for a woman’s right to choose then reversing the position have been captured on video and placed on YouTube. Look it up!

2. So, after I released the song, the debates began, and Romney kept saying stuff that was “meme-worthy.” In the second debate, he said that, when trying to look for women to fill positions in his cabinet, he had people bringing him “Binders full of women.” I KNEW that line needed to be used in the video version of my song, so I had to go back and re-record part of it. However, that line is NOT in the iTunes version of the song. Sorry 😦

INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT

Initially, I wanted to shoot a video for “Never” that was just as populated with people as “Vote Obama Style” had been. However, whereas “Obama” seem to just come together in terms of people’s schedules working out, it wasn’t the same way with this video.

I knew I needed to get the video out by October 22 for it to be effective since it was the same day of Taylor’s “Red” album coming out AND the date of the last Presidential election.  Then, while watching the second Presidential debate last week, which was a town hall meeting styled debate where undecided voters asked both men questions, it hit me: I could take footage from this debate and green screen myself in as one of the questioners!

And so, once the debate was over, I downloaded it from YouTube and started piecing together the parts I could use where Romney was in the shot with empty space in front of him. Next, I decided on what “people” I wanted to sing in front of him.  I decided to go with four: A.P.T. (myself); a blond girl who may or may not be Taylor Swift; Mario, and a pink bunny (the last two of which I just happen to have costumes for – don’t ask why, I just do).

To be the blond girl, I had to actually buy a wig! I went to the swap meet and bought a wig for $28… and let me tell you, putting that wig on was the hardest part of the shoot! I had NO idea why girls made such a big deal about their hair, but now I do – just trying to get it on took 20 minutes, and the hair kept falling in my face and wouldn’t stay in it’s place for longer than 5 seconds… I probably would have had more shots of me with it on in the video, but it just got more and more annoying!

Anyway… to make it consistent with the Romney footage I had chosen, I had to film each character facing to the right, then to the left, so that it would look cohesive when the angles of where Romney was standing changed.  About 9 takes in all. By the time I was done filming everything, I only had about 3 hours to edit before the debate began.  I imported all the footage, keyed out the green screen from each clip and placed them in front of the pre-chosen out Romney backdrops, exported them, imported them back in, then figured out which parts went where.  I was still editing when the debate began, but I was on a mission to finish the video and post it up before the debate ended – which I was able to do about 12 minutes before it did!

In a way, making this video was bitter sweet. It’s the final Obama parody I plan on making – after the election, regardless of who wins, the importance of making any Obama-related songs will go down significantly – and I’m glad to have been part of doing things that have helped get the word out about Obama and voting for him.  I’ve been making parodies about random topics for years, but to be able to make songs about a more focused topic has been very fun – AND beneficial to my career thus far!

Some Interesting Video Tidbits

1. Okay, costumes in the video: the first one – as myself – is the same outfit I wore in the “Vote Obama Style” video. The second one – me as a blond – was supposed to be me as Taylor Swift. However, I still have a thing about dressing completely in drag, so I wore my “Vote Obama Style” T-shirt and khaki pants instead (it looked like something a voter registrar would wear). The third one – me as Mario – I got that costume last Halloween, and have been making use of it ever since! And the fourth – me as a pink bunny – is a costume I got when I did a project for this website called “Very Smart Brothas.” Their site is excellent, btw, you should check it out!

2. When filming the video, I hadn’t recorded the “binders full of women” line yet, but knew I wanted to include it in the final video. So, I made sure to have each character say it, not knowing which one I would ultimately use. Then, while filming as Mario, I thought it would be funny to have him hold up a binder with a “Binder full of women, Vol. 1” cover on it. And so, that’s how he got chosen to be the character that says it!

3. While filming as the blond girl, my roommate stopped by from work to pick something up. The look on her face seeing me in a blond wig: priceless.

4. Initially, I was  going to have “Taylor” playing the guitar. However, when I looked at the video again, I realized that she does not, at any time, play any kind of instrument in the video. However, there WAS a party scene where a bunch of guys dressed like different animals were playing instruments. I didn’t have a guitar, but I DID have a tennis racket that could be played by a pink bunny, so that’s what I went with!

5. I don’t normally do “full shots” of myself when using green screen. I record most green screen videos in my bedroom, where the space isn’t wide enough to get a full body shot. However, when I DO need full body shots (like in this video for A.P.T. and the pink bunny) I will move the green screen out to the living room and place my camera in the hallway so I can get a full shot.  The hardest part? Getting the wrinkles out of the part of the green screen that’s on the floor – if you don’t, you end up getting black shadows that show up later (check my feet as A.P.T. in the later part of the video – those black parts aren’t feet shadows, they’re the parts where wrinkles caused the green to shadow so I couldn’t remove it!).

And that’s it! Hope you enjoy the video, and be sure to get the song or my album from the links above!

-A.P.T.

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!

-A.P.T.

Greetings, well-wishers!

Just wanted to let you all know, my NEW album, “The O-Bama Mixtape 2: Vote Obama Style” has been sent off to iTunes! It should hit the stores tomorrow (or, at the latest, 10 days from now). Once it’s actually up, I will blog about it here and give you all the details on the album.

BTW, the “Vote Obama Style” video is very close to 100,000 views! Thanks to all that have viewed it, shared it, retweeted it, or played it repeatedly – all those views mean a LOT to me, and I can’t wait for you to see the other videos I have coming up for this album cycle!

-A.P.T.

Hi! Remember me! Well guess what?!? I’m making videos again!!

I actually have another video I made before this video, BUT… since this one is of the utmost urgent importance, I’m putting it up first. So, without further ado….

Today’s song insights are for the music video, “Vote Obama Style,” a parody of Psy’s “Gangnam Style!”

DOWNLOAD ON ITUNES TODAY – CLICK HERE!

INSIGHTS INTO A SONG:

I’m going to assume everyone who’s on this page has heard Psy’s “Gangnam Style” song. In short, Psy’s a Korean rap/pop artist who’s “Gangnam Style” song/video have received over 100 million views (and counting) on YouTube, and has been seen on various TV shows. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

I forget how I ended up watching the video – probably after seeing it posted on Yahoo, Google and friends’ Facebook pages – but when I saw the video and heard the song, AND saw how many views it was getting, I knew I HAD to make a parody of it.

I went through the usual process, trying to find things that rhymed with “Gangnam.” “Condom” was the easiest thing to think of, and I almost went this route (“What’s Your Condom Style?”) but didn’t know how much mileage I’d get out of it.  I thought of a few funny things here and there, but nothing that was really popping off in my brain enough for me to want to record anything…

Then, I took a mini-trip to Palm Springs for the day. While relaxin’ in my room, I got a chance to look at the video again, and as I started going over parody ideas, it suddenly hit me:

“Vote Obama Style!”

There it was – the elusive hit I’d been looking to parody an Obama song with. I thought I had done it with my “Rack City” parody, “Black President” back in January, but by then the song was actually starting to die down in popularity. (Had no idea it had been out since summer 2011. So much for being on the radar anymore!)

But THIS – this song had the same elements that made “A Milli” such a sure-fire winner. Infectious beat? Check. Crazy artist saying cool stuff that didn’t make sense (unless you know Korean)? Check. Worldwide popularity? Check. The only REAL question was, could I write a song to it?

The only thing really standing in the way was the language barrier – aside from “Heeeeey, sexy lady,” I have NO idea what the rest of the song is saying. Then I realized, when I make parodies, I don’t really base the words I use off what the other artist wrote, so much as I try to follow similar song patterns and syllables.  As long as I could make my ending rhymes sound phonetically similar to what Psy was saying in Korean I’d be good.

So, I got to work. I went into work on Saturday night and just started coming up with ideas. As per usual, I thought of the second verse first, then went back to the first verse for a bit, got stuck, worked on the 3rd verse instead, then went home and worked out the first verse. By Sunday, I had a full song written and, later that same day, recorded (after finding a remade instrumental online)!

For this Obama song, I focused on two things. In the first verse, I talk about how Obama is at a turning point after 3 years, then mention how I’m going to vote for him on election day. In the second verse, I talk about Mitt Romney looking like a super villain, then listing a few of the various accomplishments made by Obama in his first term. On the refrains, I talk about Obama being the better candidate and how people should vote for him instead of Mitt Romney.

Pretty simple stuff, all said in ways that are funny, insightful, and thought-provoking. What can I say, it’s what I do best!

Some Interesting Song Tidbits

1. The way I say “Vote Obama Style” sounds similar to the way Psy says “Oppom Gangnam Style.” I was doing the best impression of him that I could for that part. It’s also the only part of the song that’s not layered with other vocals.

2. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out what I was going to replace “Heeeey, sexy lady” with. I finally settled on “Heeeeey, Romney’s shady,” mostly ’cause it was the best thing I could think of. If I could put something else there that worked better I would, but it’s a fine replacement for now…

3. I added in the line about Romney looking like a super villain because I think I saw a picture comparison of him and Magneto or some other villain on some fake news show (Stewart or Colbert, I think).

4. Believe it or not, the hardest part of the song for me to think of was the 4th line in the first verse. I was trying to rhyme words like “election,” “introspection,” and needed a forth one… but couldn’t think of anything. I finally decided on the word “objection.” Then, I had to think of what rhymed with… whatever those words were Psy used in the first half of the 4th verse that sound like “Good or bad.” Finally, I said “screw it” and decided to mention Michelle Obama’s fineness once again. I don’t think I’ve gotten through a whole “Obama” song without mentioning it, so why start now? 😛

INSIGHTS INTO A VIDEO SHOOT

Once I finished recording the song, I KNEW I wanted to make a video with an impact. However, at the time all I knew was (a) I had a flip camera, a green screen and a camera tripod to use.

My original plan was to take my tripod with me around town to various spots, set up my camera, and dance like a madman while mouthing the words to the song. It would have been an “okay” video, but nothing like what I ended up shooting…

You see, as it turns out, in the 3+ years I’ve been in Los Angeles, I’ve made friends with people who will actually show up for video shoots. And who have state-of-the-art cameras. And who don’t mind making a fool of themselves for the purpose of a video.  These are the people I call “friends,” and they help make what could be an “okay” video something that’s worthy of showing to other people.

And so, I looked through my phone list and sent out a mass text… and, the people who I truly wanted to be in the video were able to show up, including my friend Tamika (you know her from… well, MOST of the videos I shot last year). She moved to Texas late last year but was in town for a friend’s wedding and agreed to show up for an hour and shoot stuff.

As for my camera, I didn’t even have to use it for the majority of the shoot. My friend Joe Hollywood (who makes a cameo in dang near ALL of my videos) had gotten a new camera the same day I wanted to shoot, so the video ended up being a tester for the camera (and man, oh man, does it work GREAT). Aside from a few pick up shots here and there that I got via the Flip, the rest of the shoot ended up being done on a Canon T2 camera.

Anyway… the shoot itself ended up being 3 days at various times. Day 1 shoot day was at the La Brea/Expo train station, where we did a LOT of outside shots mocking Psy’s original video: The elevator shot, the shot with him and two girls walking forward, and the dance sequence at the end of the video were all done at this one location.  As we were filming it, Joe’s battery died, so we had to wait until the next day to shoot.

Day 2 shoot was LONG. Joe and I met up at the Culver City train station at 10 and shot a few more train shots, both outside AND inside the train. Then we went to Fox Hills mall, where we shot inside Target and at the food court. Next, we went back to my apartment to dump the footage and get some shots of me in the pool and next to the pool. Then, it was off to the park to shoot the opening scene (as well as a cool dance scene with me on top of a picnic table). Next, we went to the Rave cinema (a.k.a. “The Bridge”) to use their parking garage as an imitation to Psy’s garage usage in his video.  Before we left there, we also filmed a short bit of me doing the famous “arms crossed while galloping” dance from the video.  Finally, we went back to Joe’s apartment, dumped some more footage, and filmed one more scene before I headed home.

I was able to take Joe’s camera home and film some additional stuff. My roommate wanted to be in the video, so we filmed a scene where she was opening the door and I was bursting in; plus a cool scene where we danced side by side doing some more goofy dancing.

At this point, I figured my filming was done… but then I mentioned to my roommate that I had wanted her son (a.k.a. my Godson) Ajani to dance in the video.  That’s when she mentioned an Obama wall painting downtown that ended up being a PERFECT backdrop for the opening of the video, as well as getting a few clips of Ajani dancing.

Good grief, that was just the short version of what happened, and I haven’t even gotten to the editing part yet!

Well, in short: it was a LOT of color correction, adding things in so the video would look as bright, joyful and colorful as Psy’s video.  I added in subtitles typed in “Hobo Std” font (I wish I was making that name up) so people could understand all the words being said.

I also made sure to add in things like my YouTube station name, as well as where viewers could buy the single (on iTunes) as well as past Obama songs and the “Vote Obama Style” T-shirt.  I have found that my videos sometimes get “borrowed” and uploaded to other people’s channels; I figure, if it’s going to happen, might as well use them to send people back to my page and to buy my merchandise, right?

All in all, a very, VERY ambitious video, and one I’m proud to have made!

Some Interesting Video Tidbits:

1. This is the first video I’ve made in a LOOOOONG time that didn’t use green screen or excessive pictures! I really wanted to give the feel of it being a “real” video, and those elements can take away from that effect.

2. On Day 1 after Joe’s camera died, Tamika wanted to get Roscoe’s chicken and waffles for lunch – the same place Obama got food from when he visited Los Angeles last year. I had my Flip Camera on me at the time, and figured I should get some shots in there for the vid. Thus: The shot of me with a waffle house menu, and a shot of me pointing at the picture of Obama with the Roscoe’s staff hanging above their register!

3. If you notice, in about 90% of the video, the words I’m saying don’t match what’s being said. This stemmed from the elevator scene, when I realized I didn’t know all the words to my own song (since I had only just recorded it the day before)! So, I decided to act like I was speaking a gibberish language and being subtitled so people could understand me.  I wish I had known the song better, but the video still came out lookin’ dang good in spite of the situation!

4. While filming the dance sequence, the cars on La Brea kept honking at us. The majority of them were cheering us on… and then, one random guy yelled out “stop that!” LoL!

5. I wanted to get a video shot in the train since Psy had one in his video. We met up at the Culver City station because it was the end of the new Blue line, which meant the train would be stalled there for 10 minutes and we’d have time for me to film inside the train with no one there. Only problem: when we got there, people WERE in the train. I didn’t want to interrupt them or make things awkward, so I nixed the idea. Turns out, though, fate was in our favor: as I was shooting a solo scene at the station, another train pulled up. This meant I now had TWO trains in the solo shot; more importantly, though, when the train arrived, EVERYONE got off, meaning I now had time to shoot a scene on the inside of the train! We only shot for 2 minutes, but I made SURE to make them shots that could be used in the video!

6. My friend Joe was leery about shooting in Target – having to sneak around to get various shots, possibly having people walk up, etc. – but had no problem wanting to shoot in the mall food court. In fact, that suggestion is what got me the shot next to the bamboo trees in the food court!

7. The pool used in the pool scene is in the courtyard of my apartment complex.

8. For the park scene, I didn’t know of any little kids that would be available to dance in front of me like in Psy’s video. We later found out that one of Joe’s nephews was actually home during the day of our shoot and could’ve done it.  Um… shouldn’t he be in school?!?

9. In the parking garage scene, I kicked Joe in the allzbeys by accident while dancing. Terrible for him, GREAT for film footage!

10. While filming the scene where I’m dancing while crossing the street, Joe’s camera battery ran out of juice. Luckily, it shot just enough of what I needed for me to use – where it cuts off in the video is where it cut off while filming!

11. The line about Mitt Romney looking like a super villain prompted me to want to find a pic of him being compared to one online. Instead, I found a pic someone made of him looking like he was wearing Bane’s mask. Worked for me!

12. We went to 3 different toilets when trying to figure out where I could shoot the infamous bathroom scene.  We first stopped at a library next to the park, but it had a homeless guy in there shaving and washing up. The next place we went to was a hotel that had a GREAT bathroom… but bad lighting. Finally, we stopped at a bowling alley. I was going to use their handicap bathroom stall, but when we opened the door we saw crap sitting on the seat. So, I ended up having to use the small stall instead.

13. The kid in the video is my Godson, Ajani. That kid usually has so much energy, yet on the day we needed him to dance he didn’t really want to do it. Thus, the reason he’s only in snippets of the video. Ironically, once we got him home, he was all ready to be bouncing and dance. Darn that kid’s bad timing!!

14. Estimated editing time for this video… I can’t even tell. I started on Tuesday night, which went into Wednesday morning before I fell asleep at 2 A.M., then woke up at 7:45 A.M. to continue on… then I shot some more stuff for the video, so… eh, let’s just say it took a long-ass time. I thought not using green screen would make this stuff easier!

I’m very, VERY proud of how this video turned out! Even if it doesn’t get as big as my “Obama Milli Remix,” I feel the effort put into this project makes it a winner. But really, now, PLEASE share this video with your friends!

-A. P. T.

Today’s music/video insight is for the song “Words With Friends,” produced by ME!

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INSIGHT INTO A SONG:

During the week when I’m not working on a project, I’m usually playing “Words With Friends” on Facebook.  I play it so much that I figured it would be worth me making a song about.

Writing the song itself fun; making the beat for it, though, was a chore. I wanted to use sound effects from the game to make the beat, but couldn’t find them available for download anywhere online. So, I had to go through the daunting task of playing the game against myself and recording the sounds as they came up.

The main sound in the song – which you first hear when the song opens up – was the last one I tried to get. I heard the sound once while playing, then couldn’t seem to get it to pop back up when I wanted to record it. I didn’t figure out until late in the process that I could get the sound by simply starting a game then resigning. Go figure.

Anyway… so, aside from the base drum and clap sound, every other sound – from the tapping to the bubbling up tile regeneration sound – are from the game.  Once I got the beat, it was just a matter of figuring out what I wanted to talk about specifically in reference to how I play the game.

I’ve gotten into the habit now of taking more time when editing my songs. I’ll write a complete song, then sit on it for a minute and see if I can go back and take out things that were just okay to make room for something better. With that said, I re-wrote parts of this song quite a few times just to make sure I had a song that was funny and getting my point across (about just how much I like/play this game).

Some Interesting Song Tidbits:

1. I wrote this song at the very end of the week. How can you tell? The last line of the song has a mention to Don Cornelius’ passing. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what the line is…

INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO:

I didn’t have much time to really create the video I wanted to create, especially since I had shot another video that week (for my “Rack City” parody, “Black President”) and didn’t really want to edit together another video involving a plot.

That’s why the majority of this video is just me standing in my room rapping the song, with the occasional shot here and there of different things happening. As I have discovered time and time again, though, even the most simplistic of videos take a while to edit. Between the 1-shot take of me rapping the song and the various pics used, I still put in a good 5 or 6 hours completing this video. Eh, go figure.

Anyway… that’s all for this week’s video. Check it out and enjoy!

-A.P.T.