Tag Archive: Michelle Obama


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.

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.

MULTIPLE “Obama, Obama” Ringtones Now Available!! Preview Them HERE: “Obama, Obama” Ringtone – 2.99 *Only 1.99, this week only (July 8-15, 2008)!

Okay, so… um… hmm, let’s see…

I hesitate to tell people this, because… well, I don’t know.  It’s a catch-22 because, on the one hand, I’m supposed to be blogging here about my progress from average-working guy trying to make music in his studio apartment, to, hopefully, music mega-star who’s traveling the country performing his songs in different locals.  At the same time, though, when I DO type any progressions up that are significant, I don’t want them to come across as “bragging,” or have people suddenly treating me different. 

Well, except for people in the industry that didn’t care about me before.  I’d LOVE for them to treat me differently so I could do my music on a larger scale!

With that said, though, what I’m about to type is simply factual information about what has happened in the last couple of days…

So, I have a song/music video I did called “Obama, Obama,” a parody of Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli” that talks about all things Obama.  At this point, I don’t even have to say the “Lil’ Wayne parody” part anymore – right now the videos at over 62,000 views (and counting) on YouTube, and people are downloading the song at an alarming rate, both on this site and other sites like zshare and probably others I don’t know about.

The advantage of using an avenue like YouTube, as well as the Internet in general, is that a song can be spread quickly without me having to physically be there to pass it around.  And, apparently, my song has traveled to several parts of the country. 

Last night, I was checking some of the newer comments on my video’s YouTube wall (as I do on a regular basis now – my E-mail box is flooded with comment updates every other minute now), and I came across one that took me by surprise.  It was by a user named “Yourboyeddie,” and… well, here’s what the comment said:

  • “Classic fam.  I posted [the video] on my website.”

 

Nothing big – LOTS of people have posted my video on their website (and placed the song on their MySpace page – I believe my friend Michele was the first to do so, so SHOUT OUT TO MICHELE FOR THE SUPPORT FROM DAY ONE!)

Then, he left another comment:

  • “And I played it on the radio.”

 

Um, what?

I got played on the radio.  I got play on the radio?

I GOT PLAYED ON THE RADIO!!!

For some reason, I couldn’t quite comprehend what he was saying, so I wrote him and told him to let me know where and what station had played it.  He wrote me back:

  • “Yeah, I just played the majority of the 2nd verse on the radio and even posted your video on our stations website.  I played it about 6 minutes ago… well done, man.”

 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

A few minutes later, I got another posted comment, this time from a user named “ZuluWarrior1856” saying:

  • “DAMN, just now KUBE 93 radio station played this song on the radio!! In Seattle.  This $#!+’s f–kin’ nice so keep it up, aptistheman.”

 

SEATTLE?!?  How’d my song get to Seattle?!? (Oh right, the Internet – I forgot this thing is everywhere :P)

Since then, I’ve been informed that my song has also been played in two other areas of the country: station WPEG in Charlotte and Louisville’s B 96.5 in Kentucky.  At the moment, I’m looking to get air play here in Atlanta, which should be a LOT easier now that other big radio markets have already played it.

So, now I’m in a weird type of zone because, on the one hand, my song is gaining in popularity and being played on radio.  On the other hand, aside from hearing all this great stuff, nothing has really changed just yet.  I’m still at my current job, I’m still in my studio apartment saving up money, and I’m still creating songs and videos to put up on the site.  It’s almost like this good stuff is happening to me, yet not happening to me at the same time.

But, I know it’s all about patience.  I think the advantage of having waited until 26 to see even a small form of success is that I know a little bit of what to expect and what to look out for.  A lot of people catch fame at an early age and, because they aren’t properly educated on how to do business or handle themselves, they get screwed in the end, or get themselves into things (drugs, wrong crowd, etc.) that they have no business in.

Another advantage: I know that becoming successful is partially about having fun, and partially about handling the business aspect of it.  To that end, I’ve already got an entertainment lawyer who agreed to represent me LAST year… but, up until now, I didn’t really have any momentum behind any of my songs or projects, so she didn’t really have a reason to push hard for my stuff.  Now, I’ve got a meeting with her on Monday to figure out my next step.  Funny how having numbers to back up your popularity rise suddenly makes people want to do business with you!

So, that’s the going’s on for now.  I’m shooting the video for this Sunday’s song tomorrow.  As for right now, I just want to get off the computer for a while, relax, and enjoy a good movie.  Peace out!

-A.P.T.

MULTIPLE “Obama, Obama” Ringtones Now Available!! Preview Them HERE: “Obama, Obama” Ringtone – 2.99 *Only 1.99, this week only (July 8-15, 2008)!

E-Mail: aptsongs@hotmail.com