Above: The long version of “I’m The Realest” featuring an intro and outro skit!
Above: The short version of “I’m the Realest” with the song and montage part only. (For people with short attention spans.)
This week’s video is for the song “I’m the Realest” feat. Jay-Z (beat produced by King Kut, Jay-Z vocals added in by me!).
AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY ON A.P.T.’s “WELCOME TO CALI: THE MIXTAPE!” Click HERE for download link!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
When making the “Welcome 2 Cali” mixtape, I knew I wanted whatever the last song on the album was to also be the song I used for the last video of my “One-Song-a-Week” project.
I had a stack of beats that I had gotten from King Kut (who I collaborated with for video 50, “Rock and Roll (Remix)“), and there was a particular beat that stood out to me – it was bouncy, had a frenzied chorus, and sounded like it would make for a good song. Actually, when I heard the beat I had an idea for TWO songs I could make, but didn’t know which one I wanted to go with.
My original idea was to make both of these songs using the same beat. One of them – which I haven’t made yet and will therefore not mention the title of – was a goofy-sounding song while the other one was “I’m The Realest.” The idea takes off from the part of Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” song where he says: “I’m the realest that run it, I just happen to rap…” I thought that part of the song would lend itself to me writing about how I was able to stay true to myself while making music, despite the fact that (a) I’m not seen as a “typical” rapper, and (b) that I do a whole bunch of other stuff well (acting, producing, drawing, etc.) and that rap is something that I just “happen” to also be good at.
So, I was going to go ahead and record the song… but first, I had to take the beat King Kut sent me and mix it in with the lines from the Jay-Z song that I wanted for the chorus. However, I didn’t know how to take the vocals and change the pace/tone of them on my MAC’s Garageband program. Plus, the acapella vocals for the song could only be gotten one way – Limewire – and, since it’s not installed on my MAC (no WAY I’m even taking a chance at a virus getting on this computer), I had to use my PC to actually download it.
Since I had my PC up and running, I decided to use the Magix Studio 14 program I have on it to mix in the vocals. Despite my PC being slow at times, my music program actually runs quite well on it, and Magix Studio 14 allows me to bend, cut, and position beats and vocals any way I’d like to. I loaded in the acapella Jay-Z vocals and picked out the part I wanted to use. Now all I had to do was load in the beat…
I looked on my external hard drive for the file that said “Beat #1.” I noticed there were actually TWO beats with that same title – one saved in .wma format, and the other saved in WAV format. Not knowing which one was the one I actually needed, I figured I’d listen to both to see which one was the one I had been looking for. I imported in the first “Beat #1…”
And it was the wrong one.
In fact, it was one of the beats I had actually NOT had an idea for a song for. The beat itself was good, but it was repetitive, and there was no change-up in tone or pace throughout the song, not even during the chorus parts.
Because of this beat characteristic, it actually made it the PERFECT beat to use for the song! The way I saw it, the fact that Jay-Z’s voice would be on the chorus meant that people would be paying more attention to him that whether or not there was a music change-up in the background. Most importantly, it meant that the other beat I was going to use could now be use for ONE song, and this beat that I didn’t have a song for at all could be used. Genius!
Once I got the vocals in pace with the beat of the song (it doesn’t sound like it would take that long, but it was probably a good 30 minutes before I got it sounding right and having it go at the right pace), I re-exported it as a WAV file, then sent it back on over to my MAC, where I laid down the vocals.
As for the song itself, I wanted it to sound like a culmination of the year-long experience I went through, from when I first had the idea for the project, to the unexpected success and attention I got as a result of “Obama Milli Remix,” to being able to actively pursue my dreams even moreso as a result. In between all that, I wanted to use a flow that wasn’t just a standard pattern. Admittedly, I have been listening to a lot of Eminem recently, and I always liked how he flows in relation to the beat – over it, under it, inside it, etc., you name it, Em’ does it. Thus, you’ll here voice change-ups, sing-songy parts, and some verbal wordplay, as well as a few funny lines here and there.
And of course, I couldn’t end the song without thanking everybody who helped get me to this point. I now understand why musicians are always saying, “Without you, the fans, I wouldn’t be here.” ‘Cause really, if people hadn’t passed my song around, I wouldn’t have gotten the attention I got, and I would probably still be in Atlanta working at a restaurant NOT making progress (as fast) and NOT being happy – at least not as happy as I am living in Cali :)
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. One of my favorite lines is, “Picture A.P.T. sittin’ in an APT in Atlanta.” One, it’s a play on my initials, which are also an abbreviation for “apartment;” and two, I did a great job of making the syllables rhyme in this sentence!
2. It really IS a challenge to try and rap off-beat without making it sound like you’re rapping off-beat and have it flow well. The last part of the first verse where I say, “You… MUST have fallen off the wrong side of the bed/bumped your head/ can’t com-pre-hend ’cause you’re brain dead, oh!” took quite a few takes. When I write it I can hear it in my head, but if I don’t record it right away, having to re-dice it up so it sounds the way I heard it to myself can be challenging!
3. I mention how I didn’t think my songs would get farther than my “poor excuse for a laptop.” Truthfully, when I started out making music on it it wasn’t so bad… but as I added more and more memory to the machine and it got harder and harder to edit my videos, THAT’s when it became a “poor excuse for a laptop,” LoL!
4. The last 2 lines of the song were really hard to come up with. I knew I wanted to end on a joke, and once I figured out WHAT I wanted to say, I had to figure out HOW to put it into rhyme form. I figured it out eventually, but those last two lines took up about 2 hours of my time!
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT
This is not only the last video in the “One-Song-a-Week” project, but also the last video in the “Video Wars” trilogy I started 3 weeks ago.
To that end, when I first started it I already had the end in mind – namely, to have a montage of all the videos I had made over the course of the last year. How I was going to present them, though, was the hard part to figure out…
My original idea was to film myself in front of my green screen, and add in the montage as a background later. In fact, I actually DID film myself in front of the green screen doing this song last week while filming video 52 episode 2, “Welcome 2 Cali.” As I mentioned in the video insight for that video, though, keying out the green without having little green fuzzies everywhere took 3 hours, and that was only when using 3 minutes of footage. I couldn’t imagine how nightmarish it was going to be trying to key out the green screen of 3 separate takes, given the fact that, since my camera isn’t a digital one, the fuzzy count would be ridiculous!
My next idea was to place this thing WAY into the future, and have it be a situation where an older version of me is being filmed for a television show, and I’m reminiscing about all the videos I made “back in the day.” I was actually going to do this one – put some flour in my beard and dress up like an old man – but there were two problems: one, I was already an old man in video 10, “Retirement Home,” except I was a bitter old rapper in that one. Unfortunately my old man voice impression doesn’t really change, and I didn’t want people seeing this video, then going back and seeing THAT video and pondering if it was the same character, and why one was mad and the other wasn’t. (Yes, I really think about these types of continuities when making videos.) The second reason is that, since I’ve used my apartment in so many videos, trying to make people believe it was suddenly some other place (i.e. an old folk’s home, a mansion, etc.) would be hard to do.
Then, on Friday, as I was setting up for the “old man” scenario – after all, I had to film SOMETHING – I stopped and reflected on all the videos I had done this past year… and for some reason the “Kick Bush” video came to mind. In that video, I acted like I was the host of a kid’s show called “Mr. Taylor’s Neighborhood,” a take on Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood. At the end of that video, I tell the “kids” to tune in next time… only problem was, I never actually MADE a second video for them to tune in to!
In thinking about it, I figured it would be a decent enough idea to do a second episode of the show, only this time with the “newly improved” set from my California residence. It would allow me to tell the “kids” in simple vernacular about how I got from D.C. to Cali (since I explain in the “Star Wars” intro how I made it from Atlanta to D.C.), while at the same time making it easier for me to segue into the montage clip I had for the actual song.
Filming the “Mr. Taylor’s Neighborhood” portions of the video was really easy. I filmed myself walking from the sidewalk outside my apartment up to my door, and used that as the opening for the show. Then, I filmed myself walking in while on my phone threatening someone to send the money they promised to me for doing the program, lest I kick their… well, you know. Then, I talk to the kids about how me, Mr. Taylor, made a song that got big enough for someone in Cali to find me and help me move there. From there, I mention that I still completed my “One-Song-a-Week” project, and to prove it… well, that’s when I go into the montage!
Putting together clips from all my videos was easy, but time-consuming. I figured out the play time of “I’m the Realest” and calculated that I could fit clips of all my videos into the montage if I cut them down to 3 to 5 second shorts. Because their were 53 videos to go through, it took me quite a few hours; luckily, I knew which clips I wanted to use from most of the videos. Unfortunately, in order to do so I had to open up my PC one last time (since most of my older videos up until 40 were done in .wmv format, which wouldn’t transfer onto my MAC) and use the movie converter program I had on there to cut down each clip to the small amount of seconds I wanted to use.
Once I did that, I was going to just put them all in order on my Windows Movie Media program in numerical order, paste on the song, then publish it, load it back onto my MAC and use a converter to change it over to an .mov file. But, I knew that I wanted to have the transitional “roll of film” effects that my iMovie had on its program. So, I took all of the 53 mini-clips that I had, converted them into .mov, then imported them into iMovie, pasted them in order, added the song, and BAM – montage complete! Again, very simple process, but it took almost 6 to 7 hours out of my life!
So, after the opening, the intro, and the montage, I had to figure out a way to end the video. But I had already thought about that during the week, and I knew exactly how I wanted to end it. Since this is the last video in the project, people have been asking me, “What are you going to do after you’re done with it?” I already know what I’m doing since I’ve been working on it since I moved here, but since I can’t reveal everything about it just yet, I decided to end this video by having me begin to tell them, then getting cut off by the credits of the show. I’m sure people will be writing me asking me, “seriously, though – WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO??” Sorry, peeps, can’t say anything just yet!
All in all, I think this video – and, more importantly, this song – was a great way for me to end the project on a high note!
Some Interesting Video Shoot Tidbits:
1. When filming the part of the video where I say that people stole my song, I “say” that I don’t want to mention any names, and I wasn’t going to. However, while editing in the text for some of the other clips, I thought it would be funny if I “mentioned” the name by scrolling it at the bottom of the screen. That way, I could “say” the name without “saying” the name.
2. As you will see in the video, I mention the videos in reference to the weeks they were made instead of the number order. This is because (a) I didn’t want people to question why there were 54 videos instead of 52 (there were 2 weeks when I did 2 videos in those weeks); and (2) so people will know that I actually did a video each week.
3. Also, I was originally going to mention the weeks and names of each video using the “writing on tape” effect, but it looked monotonous to me. So, AFTER I gave all the clips that effect, I went back and put in different effects so the audience wouldn’t get bored looking at the same lettering effect over and over.
4. The shirt I’m wearing in the video has the logo on it from EMQTv.com, which is the web site I blog for when I’m not doing music stuff.
5. Editing time for this video: I couldn’t even tell you. I was just so eager to get it done – I started editing it on Thursday, then filmed the parts of me doing the “Mr. Taylor’s Neighborhood” on Friday… let’s just say, I wanted to do it right, so it took a LONG time!
And that’s it! I did it! 54 videos in 52 weeks, baby! Will there be more videos from me in the future? The answer to that is “yes,” but definitely NOT on a weekly basis, but as for right now… I think I deserve a little vacation!