Urban

‘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.

 

A Real Life Water Bender (Blaze Yentruoc – Told You Dance Video)

Watch the Blaze Yentruoc Dance Video from Jojo– the star of Almonte’s “The Initiate.”

Almonte recently teamed up with the multi-faceted star of his short film, The Initiate to shoot a freestyle dance video to MELLDU’s “Told You.” The song paints a picture of a modern cowboy walking in a cold food-desert of Harlem to confront all that ever doubted him. The climactic face-off is with his biggest competitor. Himself.

The nature of how this video was shot embodies the vibe of this song. In every take of the Blaze Yentruoc Dance Video, he attempted to best himself after watching the footage over and over. And Over. In the freezing cold. His movements more dynamic with every fleeting minute. Physically fighting to abstain the heat from leaving his body. Blaze’s freeform movements are like something out of a Mortal Kombat Kata sequence. Even finger tuts that looked like waterbending.

Blaze takes the song where his heart wants to take it. The raw passion accentuates every beat of the song’s pulse. As if the beat was dancing to Blaze’s body, as opposed to the converse.

Follow him at @sain0ne

 

 

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.

 

 

Rappers Drinking Pepto Bismol At The Club is Now a Thing

It was only a matter of time before rappers drinking Pepto Bismol in music videos became a thing.
Why tho?

I guess shitting on niggas gets tiring after a while.

Sometimes you realize you’ve been flexing entirely too much. So you have to get your hands on that pink drink to stop yourself from indulging in consumerist behavior and shitting on everyone less iced out than you are I suppose. Rappers drinking Pepto Bismol at the club is the new wave.

@TimHannRivera really killed it. It even got nominated Best Sketch Comedy at the Official Latino Film Festival. 

Here’s the Lyrics:

Sippin on that pink drink,
Got my stomach moving slow,
Sip it with a gingy,
Mix it with that combo,
Finish till it’s empty,
Think I might need one more,
Got me feeling sweaty,
Hope I make it to my show
Sippin on that pink drink,
Hope my shit don’t stink,
Popped a pill and it’s pink
Too late to rethink
Cus now I gotta go gotta go gotta go gotta go
Niggas see me with the hoes
can’t feel me toes
now I’m froze can’t move
got shit on my shoe
got Shawty saying what are those
I suppose fucked up my clothes
that’s how it goes when you
order out and get a three topping pizza at dominoes,
Gotta pop another pill,
cus mothafuckas is too trill,
drink a bit of gingerale,
boutta get that peptobismol refill
Sippin on that pink drink,
Got my stomach moving slow,
Sip it with a gingy,
Mix it with that combo,
Finish till it’s empty,
Think I might need one more,
Got me feeling sweaty,
Hope I make it to my show
12:28 I’m tryna get this drank,
Haven’t ate nothing but a fuckin frank,
Debit card not working gotta run to the bank,
Sharted in my pants shits about to stank,
Ima street nigga fuck you talking bout,
wanna order wings but I’m having doubts,
Ayo Bandage don’t do it man you’re butthole gonna feel like a drout,
Nigga fuck all that other shit I’m ready to check out,
I just got me two piece chicken wings,
Ima street nigga I can do these things,
once I took a bite my fuckin stomach dropped,
these mothafuckin wings made my heart stop,
gotta find me a drug store,
anything that sells that peptobismol,
Ima street nigga y’all already know,
but these wings boutta make my stomach blow…
Sippin on that pink drink,
Got my stomach moving slow,
Sip it with a gingy,
Mix it with that combo,
Finish till it’s empty,
Think I might need one more,
Got me feeling sweaty,
Hope I make it to my show

 

Harlem Gentrifier Silences Mister Softee Ice Cream Truck

Or at least she tries.

First they came for our chopped cheese.

Now they are coming for Mister Softee? You can’t be serious.
This new harlem resident AKA gentrifier complained that Mister Softee’s ice cream truck was too loud. This is an iconic staple of New York City in general. She really tried to call the police on this man doing his job. The weaponization and threat of force is continuously used by these invaders trying to redefine the pace of the hood.

Don’t Read the Worldstar Hate Comments… Trust me.

It’s never healthy to take Worldstar Hate Comments to heart.

Comment sections in general are a trip. The Worldstar hate comments especially add to the ‘bitter-‘ part of the bittersweetness of going viral. When you’re in the spotlight, 15 minutes of fame can also mean 15 minutes of shame if you let the hate get to you. We’re talking outright off-the-wall insults. Not criticism. Especially not constructive criticism. Straight roasting. Like Jesus coming back for a 2nd round of miracles, walking on water, and people making fun of him for wearing fake pumas. Or for leaving his edges in 33 AD.

Worldstar hate comments are ruthless. Don’t read them until you’re ready.

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