Hood

‘Broke Rappers.’ I Don’t Do Free Shoots. Period.

No if’s. No and’s. No but’s.

Oh boy. The relationship between ‘broke rappers’ and actual broke video producers.

Or producers of any kind. Graphic designers. Web designers. Engineers. We’ve all had a run-in with a selectively cheap artist that brags about their lavish lives in their music. Then turns around and low-balls you for your services. ‘Broke rappers’ are usually not broke at all. Just dudes with f*cked up priorities and no respect for artistry. And an over-inflated sense of self.

Tell them to kick rocks. They probably won’t do it while they wear their new Balenciaga’s.

Sure there are genuinely starving artists that will actually barter some of their services for yours. And there’s nothing wrong with respectfully admitting, “this isn’t something I can afford right now. Hope to work with you in the future!” and keep it moving.

But.

See what we’re not going to tolerate is someone devaluing our work and saying “can you lower the price” just because. A friend-of-a-friend discount.

I can’t walk into Best Buy and use an Instagram shout-out as a form of currency to buy a camera. So what makes you think you can pay someone in exposure for a skill that took a lot of time and money to develop?

Let’s take a step back. There are actual broke rappers.

Working video in Hip Hop is an interesting beast different from weddings, commercial, or film work. Probably the most fun you’ll have as a creator. Oftentimes gigs that are most fun tend to pay less. Especially in a genre that is literally the voice of the underprivileged. Artists turn to Hip Hop to express socio-economic hardship. They will make music by any means necessary. And sometimes being resourceful means hustling others into doing free work for them. I come from a place where my friends would pool money together from their 9-5 jobs and invest in an entry-level DSLR camera. Then just shoot it themselves. We didn’t even know what ISO was. We were just dedicated to learning by experience and doing what we could. But we definitely weren’t contacting professional-level producers that we knew had high rates to try to lower their prices… especially not offering to pay them in “exposure.”

Producers aren’t charging you these prices because they want to scam you. They do it because its how they keep the lights on. It’s how they’re able to afford to maintain their equipment and keep doing what they do. Video is especially important in boosting a music career. No one will take you seriously if you invest thousands in looking good or even on hours of studio time but won’t invest in the visuals. If you really can’t afford to pay a professional, study the craft and do it yourself. Don’t burn bridges by disrespecting the value of other artists.

How We Made a Film in 7 Days

Watch how we made a “The Initiate” in 7 days.

Join Almonte, Tim Hann, Jinzo & Blaze in a discussion on making a film with an extremely short deadline.

This was mostly for the sake of an experimental challenge to test our passion for the arts. You should definitely spend more than 7 days on any piece. As with any painting, some films will take years to just write. Some written in 10 minutes. Time spent doesn’t equate to the quality of the work. The passion and how connected you feel to the piece is what determines the impact of the film. Think of this like a speed painting you see a starving artist performing in the streets. That’s right. Performing. There’s two stories happening.

  • The fabricated one that is being shot from a script.
  • The struggle of the creators on the journey to create a film.

The Beginning

I was conflicted on whether I should make a CreepyPasta about how I got robbed in East Harlem or making a hood, gang initiation film. But a third idea emerged in my mind spontaneously on the 24th of October.

What the hell is a Creepypasta?

‘CreepyPasta’ is a style of horror storytelling that usually revolves around urban legends you can find online that people narrate in Youtube mini audio-books. It derives from “Copypasta” which are viral text walls people copy-and-paste everywhere to avoid misfortune. The earliest form of this was chain letters–which precedes the internet. People would get anonymous letters in the mail saying, “Send this to 5 addresses or [insert bad thing] will happen to you.” Here’s an example of an online version:

What if these actually came true for people that did harm to others? Oftentimes we see horror films placed in suburban or rural countrysides. So I stuck to what I know best: the hood. A horror story revolving around inner city kids where the stalking robber– the one who was the initial source of the horror in ACT I and ACT II– was now victimized by a personification of his own guilt.

Jaquan the Hood Lantern.

Spoiler Alert: Jaquan turns Jojo the slasher’s brains into a chopped cheese in the end credits. And the film is punctuated by a voice-over of a Valley-Girl accented Becky saying “Wow only 4 dollars? That’s a steal.” Followed by Chad’s “I know right; I love this neighborhood.” A cute nod to the open-endedness that the horror of gentrification that Almonte has spoken about in his viral chopped cheese video.


Shooting a Film in 7 Days is nerve wrecking.

In fact I wouldn’t recommend anyone do this to their mental health.

I finally wrote an idea that I connected with on a very personal level. But Halloween was in 7 days. Day of the Dead was in 8 days. How the hell was I going to get the cast and crew to pull this off? The same way I pulled off my guerrilla style of shooting My Way. My first attempt at filmmaking with no experience in fight choreography or serious camera work. Except now I’m exponentially more skilled than I was when I was 16. There was no way I was going to let this idea taunt me for another year while I waited for Halloween of 2018 to come back around. By then I would have built even more film ideas and just abandoned the Initiate. I was tired of waiting and planning and not executing all these ideas that kept coming to mind.

There’s only one way to shoot a film in 7 days: Just do it.

Call your folks. Even if they’re not “real” actors. A great director and editor can make anyone look good. I wrote, directed/shot, & edited this. And for the first time, I produced video content that didn’t involve the marketing of my face.

Though I did play the Jaquan the Lantern. Shhh.

I was essentially a one-man crew. The support and patience I got from my cast was imperative. Including emotional support when I wanted to give up on this and try next year.  You are your own worst critic. Finding countless mistakes in audio, continuity errors, and etc. can be disheartening if you don’t have anyone to get you out of your artistic anxiety. Being a perfectionist doesn’t get anything finished.

 

Christmas Prank on New Yorker Gone Wrong

Watch this prank video where a New Yorker gets Timbs for Christmas.

But it goes terribly wrong.

He even mentions how he should have spent Christmas with his main chick. Clearly he hasn’t read the Fuckboy Handbook(TM)L


  • Wifey knowest the desires of thee wellest. Thou shall not spendeth any Holiday — including birthdays — with any mistress, no matter how good the thrussy may beeth.


What New Yorker gets Timbs as a gift and is happy about it? If you’re dating a New Yorker, they probably already own a pair.

Or five.

Jinzo Hits Every Beat

Watch how Jinzo kills this remix to this famous Hip Hop Tutorial Video that became a meme.

Jinzo kills it–per usual. But he makes sure to take it back to his popping roots to show you he never misses a beat.

That Time of Year Strangers Become Family

The Thanksgiving strangers are coming this holiday season.

Thanksgiving strangers. Those 3rd cousins that you always see down the block that don’t say sh*t to you. You gon’ let them rock and make they plate?

Thanksgiving in the hood is interesting. Having a broken hereditary family means you’ll probably enjoy the pre-thanksgiving friendsgiving. A potluck of drinking and sh*t- talking with friends about middle school days.

Definitely more enjoyable than an awkward sit down of a bunch of aunts you don’t remember meeting asking “how’s school” every 5 minutes… and hearing your woke uncle tell you about how we shouldn’t even be celebrating the genocide of indigenous people.

Watch Tim Hann’s full skit here.

(And btw. Mac. We aren’t celebrating genocide. It’s just a day off. Relax.)

Just Swipe It Forward Bruh (Comedy Film)

Swipe it Forward. Or it will haunt you.

In this case, literally. We don’t suggest anyone harass anyone to swipe it forward when you leave your metrocard at home the way this guy did… because for every asshole that ignores you, there’s one that will gladly use their unlimited metro to swipe you on.

Timothy “Hann” Rivera (@TimHannRivera) teams up with Almonte for another hilarious satire on the relationship between the homeless and the working class in Harlem. Almonte’s melancholic cinematography adds a dark twist to Tim’s goofy comedy style. “Almonte’s cinematography in the film gives it suspense… a sense of realism,” Tim describes. And we can’t forget Spagety’s (@SpickAndSpan_) incredible improv skills. “Edwin’s acting is scary yet hilarious.”

That Nuyorican  Rican accent though…

Tim explains his inspirations, reminiscing that he “always loved the old school Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger movies & wanted to create something similar.” He continues. “I always use my environment to create stories and thought — wouldn’t it be crazy if there was a scary film based on a Homeless guy that chases a guy for a metrocard swipe?– It’s scary but yet funny because in the film I’m really getting chased for a metrocard swipe… something you don’t see in films.” The ghetto life in Harlem is something you definitely rarely see in films. The satirical part of it all is what a big deal people make about being asked for swipe. In reality, no one is really going to chase anyone for train fare. Especially if they’re already on the train???
Well… unless it’s a cop chasing you for hopping the turnstile. That should be the next one 😉 

How far would you go for a swipe?

Watch the full video here. 

Rise — Boy to King — A Short Story

A King’s conquest for power is interrupted by a boy who looks oddly familiar in this hood creepypasta.

Almonte’s short narrative comes to life with this online audio book. A prequel to “Wack Nikkkas.”

Here’s the transcript:

Hood Creepypasta 1

1      Aight bussit… Per usual, I casually wait for some wealthy settler to pull up off the Metro lackin. A concert at Ward’s Island finished days ago. The hood is a pitstop these ravers gotta take to get to their little events there. So unless there’s some type of event goin on, aint no 12 around here to give them white hipsters and bourgeois niggas somethin to hide behind when them crackheads askin for change… so traffic is type slow. This the perfect time for a come-up since the block aint hot. Any new nigga pull up? It’s gon be just me and him. Lit. So why I see this lil nigga in a fuckin onesie by himself across the platform? First of all, obviously ya pops aint in ya life. My pops never had me wearin some faggot ass onesie. This lil nigga was not no 3 years old. This was a big ass kid. I aint even know they make onesie’s that size. I gotta get rid of this nigga cause he fuckin up my flow and I’m trynna get this comeup. I aint trynna have no extra eyes on my work.
~

2      An hour passes with no trains passin by and this pink panther lookin ass nigga aint gettin on none of these shits. You don’t wanna make a nigga uncomfortable. Promise you. As I cross over, what I thought was a teddy bear in his hand is actually some ugly ass gremlin lookin shit up close. That shit look type softer than a teddy bear though, not even gonna hold you.

“Yerr…” He don’t turn around. Smart lil nigga must be from around here.

~

3      I pull up where he can see me.

“What’s good, bro? Lemme holla at you real quick.” His eyes gaze up without pullin away. Ha. Nigga sad. His eyes tell a story. Not them fearful puppy eyes. It was them eyes from the same dog four years later after his owners hit the lotto and abandoned him in the hood. Sad– yeah — but no fear where there’s nothin to lose.

“You good?”

“Yeah I’m good. You good?” he gettin smart.

“You aint gotta be defensive, I aint trynna press you or nothin. I just see you out here by yaself lookin frantic and shit. ”

“I’m waitin for the train.”
“Don’t you think if ya train was comin it woulda been here by now? You been out here for an hour and a half. ”

“How you know I been out here for an hour and a half?”

“Cause I’m waitin for a train too. I got business to do.”

“We just might be waitin for the same train sir. It’s comin”

“My train comin. But I heard trains on this side aint runnin today.”
“I gotta get home.”
“You sound like you from here.”
“I am, but this aint my home.”

“Haha. Once you from Harlem, this don’t stop bein ya home. Don’t get Hollywood lil nigga. You might as well cop a Telly or some shit. Aint no trains on this side, B. I’m tellin you. You familiar wit the area anyway. You should be aware that lurkin out a lil too late for a lil nigga like you could be lethal. For all you know I coulda been some goon trynna snatch ya pockets and you out here all comfortable and shit.”

~

4      “Aint nothin to get snatched. And you don’t look like a goon to me. I aint scared.”

“That’s what make niggas like me dangerous. Tourists come out here and love an eccentric lightskin nigga like me. They don’t see shit comin. All these darkskin niggas dyin and gettin locked up cause they worried about lookin hard. You lucky I aint one of them goons or I woulda popped on ya pussy ass. I know you aint got shit in ya pockets. You from here. You a popped nigga just like me. You either make this shit ya home–no– make yourself King, or you make yourself the doormat. Aint no in between Heaven and Hell. And you And what’s Hell to Satan if he got his throne? See you? You the product of your environment. You just a bitch ass fallen angel that’s scared to call himself a demon.
~


5      “This the Hood, nigga. So you a hood nigga. And that’s that. I could say all this smart shit, keep it classy, stayin calm and collected with you. But at the end of the day, I’m a hood nigga. And that’s all you ever be even if you do just so happen to be able to catch a train out of here. Leave all you want. The Hood aint ever leavin you. Now, scram nigga. Aint no trains on this side. I’ma keep it one hunnit wit you. I’m waitin for a come up.”

He won’t budge.

~

6     “Nah I’m good. I’ma keep on waitin for this train. I’ma be tight if I leave right now and 5 minutes later I’m down the block hearin the train passin by. Good things come to those who wait. You do you, and I’ma do me. I aint no snitch. But you gon have to kill me before you take me off this strip.”  Niggas go hard for the most unrewardin shit. Some little niggas just never learn. Fuck it.

~

7      Lo and behold just 10 minutes later I feel a gust of wind crescendo across my face. The bats finally shriek for the first time in decades. Their voices drown in the blinding roars of the headlights. He still got them eyes. A dog lost in a cave finally seein his way out.

“Looks like ya ride out the cave is here fam.”

This hour and a half felt like my whole life waitin to eat. Cause it was.

The train stops. The few-second delay between the train stoppin and the doors slidin open seem like forever. Cause it is.

~


8      “The train is out of service.” He holds back tears. The doors never open

“Sorry kid. This train aint meant for you.”

Watchin the sun set against the train’s reflective canvas was like watchin a drop of blood fade on a cube of ice.

“You such a goon. Let’s hijack this train,” he challengin me.

“Haha a King knows how to pick his battles. Like I said. This train aint for you. And even if it was, you get off that train the same nigga you was when you got on.”

~


9      “Be safe, young blood. Welcome Home. You a bold nigga. Don’t lose sight of the light… But you gotta survive before you revolutionize.”

 

Photography by @Call_Me_CJ (Craig Steely Jr.)

This NYC Bum Is Savage AF

There’s a key difference between a New York beggar and these New York Bums.

Harassment.

On 125th– infamous for extreme poverty and addiction— the hustle is strong. Sell metro cards. Sell phones. Sell ass. Panhandle. Do what you have to do to survive that doesn’t violate the autonomy of another. Intimidating people into handing over their money is intolerable. And you can’t simply ignore superbums. Oftentimes they will follow or continue harassing you if you don’t turn around and engage them assertively. And even that doesn’t work sometimes.

It isn’t just a problem for snobby gentrifiers. I’ve witnessed countless locals being cursed out or damn near followed for half a block. Borderline coercive robbery. The aggressive catcalling and intimidation of women should not be dismissed as ‘hood culture.’ 

That shit is CORNY.

The Initiate Film – Your Conscience Will Always Haunt You

Triggered by the trauma he’s inflicted against someone he once called friend, Jojo tries to run away from his own conscience in The Initiate Film.

Why join a Gang?

Belonging. Protection. Power.

Extreme poverty is a dangerous precedent for proximity crime. With plenty looking for a quick way to make ends meet–or keep up with the Jones’ on TV living a lavish Hip Hop lifestyle. Whether it be by selling drugs or robbing their neighbors of what little they have. In the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism, most choose to be a predator than to be a prey. And when the gang that runs the block gives you a stare-down every time you’re just trying to do laundry and live your life… if you can’t beat em, join em. In The Initiate film, Jojo does just that.

But betraying your own conscience comes with a price to pay. He can run, lie, or take whatever drugs he wants to try and forget his sins. But a man can’t escape what he has done.

Watch how we made this film in 7 days by clicking here.

Ghetto Jeffro Unboxes Ghost White Timbs

The Ghost White Timbs are an icon of Hood Rich Culture.

This the first time I dropped two bucks on some sh*t some hating ass peasant will probably step on anyway. Why did I get the Ghost White Timbs? Look good; feel good, am I right?

Kinda. Not really.

I know I coulda got White boots from any other brand like H&M for 50 cash. But I don’t f*cks with fugazi sh*t. I’ma keep it a shtack. I haven’t worn Timbs since I was in middle school. Honestly, they blister my ankles and they played out. Everybody and their moms was rockin constructs. Issa lazy way to complete a navy blue color coordination. But Ghost White Timbs that make my eggshell-painted section 8 apartment look yellower than my teeth after eating two chopped cheeses back to back? I had to cop. Come on now.

Keep it 100. You hatin on me for one of three reasons:

  1. I gets more money than you.
  2. They limited edition and you was waitin til next Friday for your check. D*ckhead.
  3. You from the Bronx.

 

 

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