It doesn’t seem like its been so long since the 1st draft of the script for Sahtyre’s “Suicide” was sent out. My personal favorite song from Sahtyre’s LSD (The Prelude) mixtape, since first hearing the song and being offered to direct the video I’ve been super anxious to bring this song to life. We had done a good job with the Miss Communication video and the B.A.R.S. series back in early 2012 that I have been anxious to work with Sahtyre again, especially if we were able to to secure a decent budget for the next one. After initially throwing ideas back and forth, the original concept being the creation of Sahtyre himself, we were confident enough in the script to wait for the right time to shoot it. Before shooting Suicide, Sahtyre shot and released three other videos from the mixtape (LSD-The Anthem, Bad Habit, & Broccoli) with assistance from another videographer/director, Adam Stanzak, all three being really incredible, although the LSD video stood out to me as some next level stuff. I was after about 7-8 months later starting to have my doubts about the Suicide video actually becoming a reality….until about late September when I got the call from Sahtyre to finally do it. Steez.
Enter: Suicide….the story of a young girl who gets caught up in the allure of “fame” and “super-stardom” and who subsequently ends up paying the ultimate price for it all in the end. The video follows the young girl (Kiara Black) through her slow transition from dancer to model (Brianna King), and her fall from grace leading to her…suicide. Shot on location in Hollywood, CA, the video for Suicide has a very polished, clean but dark and ominous look and feel to it, which was exactly what we envisioned.. More short film than music video, and with no performance shots or even a small cameo from Sahtyre, the video depended solely on the dark aesthetic and the gripping story to pull the viewer into the world in which we created. Working with Sahtyre, Adam Stanzak, and Michael Paredes made directing a breeze. Our pre-production work definitely made all of the difference in the world, and the fact that all of the actors were all on point made filming this video the smoothest process it’s ever been for me. Shot in just two days, the music video for Suicide is arguably my best work yet as a director and has only got me anxious for the next one. In the meantime…watch and enjoy.
Note: There are many different themes being presented in this video…lets see if you can pick up on them.
“25″ is the both the third music video from C Plus’ “L.O.C.A.L.” sophomore album, and the third video we’ve shot for him. They say the third time’s a charm and I feel like we really nailed it with this one. Minus any performance shots, the video depicts a day in the life of Sacramento artist C Plus in a venture throughout northern California, with stops in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland. The song provides for the perfect sound bed for the imagery in this video, as we wanted to capture not only the lifestyle of C Plus, but of California as a whole. Filmed in Fillmore District of SF, East and West Oakland, and C Plus’ hometown in Northern Sacramento, the images themselves tell the visual story of what the song embodies. Please enjoy.
While on his King Remembered In Time tour, Big K.R.I.T. sat down with StrongArm (90.5FM KSJS) for an exclusive interview after his performance at DNA Lounge in San Francisco. Among topics discussed were the new project, K.R.I.T. (King Remembered In Time) and tour, linking with Spike Lee for a short film for the “Praying Man” track which features B.B. King off his debut studio album, Live From The Underground. He also spoke on the track “Banana Clip Theory” about gun violence, and on working with 9th Wonder & BJ The Chicago Kid on the track “Life is a Gamble”, both tracks are on his new mixtape.
Check out Big K.R.I.T.’s King Remembered In Time (K.R.I.T.) project here: http://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/21536/big-krit-king-remembered-in-time.html
Purchase Big K.R.I.T.’s studio album, Live From The Underground: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/live-from-the-underground/id530070425 .
A Special thank you to Johnny Shipes, Dutch and everyone else at Cinematic Music Group.
Footage taken at Tastemaker Live/Sean Healy Presents. Show at DNA Lounge in San Francisco on 5.28.13.
Shot/Edited by Amadeuz Christ (@AmadeuzChrist)
Interview by Arman “StrongArm” Mahmoudi (@StrongArm408)
An Open University Production
C Plus is one of my favorite upcoming artists on the scene. Chase Moore and Hippie Sabotage are quickly becoming my favorite producers in the game. All Nighter finds the Sacramento emcee C Plus linking up with Chase and the Hippies to bring you the perfect combination of solid production and dope lyricism, with the sample and visual treatment inspired by the movie Drive. With this video I had the freedom to creatively bring to life a hip hop influenced take on the film, with C Plus as the driver and the sexy Ciara Gorman as the co-star. Shot in the only a day and a half, one at first look probably wouldn’t be able to tell how much work went into the pre-production of this video but I will say that planning definitely pays off. This video has to be one of my favorites so far in how the whole concept and look came together.
In the video C Plus stars as the driver, who with his female accomplice, ends up going head to head with a mob boss (played by Chase Moore) and a hired hitman (played by So Crates) after a botched robbery plot. Anyone who has seen the film Drive will quickly pick up on the loosely inspired plot and theme, to which Chase Moore and Hippie Sabotage superbly do the sample justice. In All NIghter C Plus must quickly learn how to deal with these threats, all while seeming totally cool and unnerved by the attempts on his life. Chase Moore and So Crates do an excellent and convincing job in their portrays of their characters, and we’re still sure that So Crates is still in a little bit of pain. All Nighter can be found on C Plus’ Still Out Here mixtape which is available now at thirdletta.com. Enjoy.
Back in August we released our first collaborative video for Sacramento emcee The Gatlin, entitled Victorian Muzik, which followed Gatlin through an awakening process from the street life to attaining enlightenment. The video attempted to shed light on the drug game as a government set-up and followed Gatlin through his becoming aware of the trap. We now come to the second installment of the video series with the video for Gusto, which takes us back to the events that take place before Victorian Muzik and acts as the impetus of this self-awakening. In this new video, a prequel if you will, we Gatlin caught in the paradigm of risk vs. reward and the rules of the streets….and almost loosing his life as a result.
The video begins with a drug deal gone bad and then explores the events that led up to Gatlin’s near untimely death. The video paints a realistic portrayal of the pitfalls of the street life alluding to the fact that although the reward may be great, in the end the risks one takes with his/her life is not worth that reward. Gatlin learns this the hard way, although he ultimately survives death and is able to live to tell the story. Gusto in no way tries to glorify the street life, rather tells of the reality of its dangers which often lead to incarceration or certain death. The video co-stars many of Sacramento’s noteworthy emcees who join Gatlin in bring this street tale to life. Watch and enjoy.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” - Ephesians 6:12
First off let me say this….I did not want to write this article. As a newbie video/film director myself, I try to stay current on the trends and occurrences in the film world, especially as it pertains to the music industry. My jam-packed schedule typically doesn’t afford me much leisure time to sit, watch, and analyze most videos that are released, and I usually don’t give any of them a second thought afterwards. With most “industry”videos I am able to very quickly point out all of the subliminal (some not so) symbolism, the occultic themes, and objects placed in frame for a specific reason. Every so often a video is released that is so ostentatiously satanic I am taken back…the last one was Jay-Z’s “On to the Next One” released on 01/01/11….this time its Lil Wayne’s “Love Me” directed by Hannah Lux Davis (no promo).
As easy it would be for me to break down the symbolism in this video, the red and black satanic color theme, the mirror, butterfly, and other MK Ultra Monarch Programming ties, the Nephilim-reptilian women that look like they were taken straight out of a David Icke book…I won’t delve in that far (visit mkculture.blogspot.com for more info on that). That would be giving the director too much credit. Although I can’t help but wonder if these directors are really into this stuff or are they simply being told what to incorporate into these videos? My real question is this….why is this imagery being marketed to our children? Why are these themes being infused into hip hop culture? If one were to pose the argument of this video being intended for adults and mature audiences, not kids, then why release a “clean” version where the curse words are edited out? Would not this imply that this was edited for younger audiences? But the two objectified demonic women drenched in a bathtub full of blood is ok right? Don’t think I didn’t see the hexagons either…..
Black people have always been a very spiritual people, and hip hop was birthed from mostly soul music…so I am very aware of the agenda to infuse this demonic energy into our “culture” and its disturbing. I know I’m not the only one who sees this. I know I’m not the only one who cares. Perhaps this is Ms. Hannah Lux Davis’ attempt to play off of and capitalize off of the current illuminati phenomena that has become a large part of pop culture as of recent. Although this stuff has always been in music videos, I feel like in this instance is in very bad taste. Maybe if this video came with a disclaimer that said “Warning this video contains extremely satanic imagery…” or something similar, I would understand. I even can appreciate some of Tyler the Creator’s videos, in a certain sense. However, this new video by Lil Wayne is way over the top and I can’t image anyone watching this video without feeling a little disturbed in their souls…maybe that was the intention, but there’s an old saying that says that “those who play with fire…will eventually get burned.”
First off let me say this….Locksmith is a genius. I have been very blessed early in my career to be able to work with artists who are serious about their craft, the quality of their music, and the presentation of their visuals and image. Locksmith is definitely one of those artists. We had discussed a similar concept in the past, for the song “Gone Tomorrow” off his previous project, Labyrinth, although due to scheduling conflicts we were unable to shoot it. I’m glad we made up for it with “Be Free.” Produced by Kashif of 9th Wonder’s Soul Council, the song immediately grabbed me upon hearing it the first time and I knew we would have to do something special visually with this one. We tossed around a couple ideas and a draft or two of the script before we settled on the final concept of having the lead actress, played by the beautiful and talented Alejandra Cruz, on the Golden Gate bridge…I think about two days before we were scheduled to shoot. I’m glad we decided on that because it came out crazy.
This was the first video we shot with the Canon 5D mark III and I won’t be using another camera, besides maybe the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, for a while. The picture quality is absolutely amazing. Even though it was raining with very minimal sunlight, the high ISO capability if the Mark III worked amazingly well under the conditions and made for a beautiful picture. The camera was even able to capture the rain drops which added a nice natural effect the the video, making it worth shooting in the rain although poor Alejandra almost went into hypothermic shock from the freezing cold. Hats off to her because she pulled it off very convincingly. I’ve been very excited about this video, not just because of the look and feel of it, but because it is very rare that hip hop videos depict story-telling in such a creative way, and more so without using a super voluptuous video vixen playing the lead. Everything with this video came together quite well…and while I was a little skeptical at first with the idea of using the same shot in the hotel room for Locksmith’s performance, his vision and insistence paid off. Glad to have been a part of this. Enjoy.
When Final Cut Pro X was announced by Apple back in June of 2012 I was ecstatic. As an avid (no pun intended) Final Cut Pro Studio user who had grown a complicated love/hate relationship with the render bar, coupled with the fact that Final Cut Pro 7 only utilized 4GB RAM max. With FCPX I was very much wooed by the thought of not having to render along with the idea of my projects being edited that much faster. The new design, the organization of shots/footage, and the ability to utilize more than 4GB Ram had me to the point where I was unable to sleep for months thinking about this new Final Cut Pro X (ok a little exaggerated). I felt my life was soon about to change.
Then Final Cut Pro X was released. I remember that day logging onto the Apple App store for the first time ever, ready and willing to cough up $300 of my hard-earned cash for this new software and not thinking twice about it. I just happened to start reading the reviews on it before hitting the purchase button…I was crushed.
No backwards compatibility. No XML support. A “magnetic timeline” that feels like it was made for dummies and beginning editors. But worse of all……NO APPLE COLOR COMPATIBILITY!!!!!!! WHAT????
Needless to say, apart from taking the time to re-learn a new editing software in the midst of trying to finish a gazillion video projects, the new Final Cut Pro X suddenly did not interest me at all as I just didn’t see the benefit of making the change to the new software anytime soon…mostly because I create 50% of my “look” inside of Apple Color. So I decided to wait it out and keep using Final Cut Pro 7 until all of the may lay had been figured out and resolved. Although support for FCP7 would soon come to a halt, I would take my chances and keep editing on it until the day where I was forced to make the change.
Enter the Canon 5D Mark III.
Up until about a month ago I had shot all of my film projects on the Canon T2i, a camera that I have been very pleased with. I would always watch videos comparing the T2i and 5D Mark II and showing nearly similar results for video, under the right lighting conditions of course. A client of mine wanted his new video shot on the Canon 5D so I decided to rent one and try it out to see exactly how comparable the two were. Although I had shot on the 5D Mark II before and couldn’t really notice any remarkable difference in quality compared to the T2i, I must say that with the Mark III I was blown away. The full frame, easy controls and video settings (minus Magic Lantern) and the picture quality spoiled me to the point where I no longer wanted to even look at my T2i. This was the upgrade I needed….little did I know of the hell that was about to unfold…..
After shooting the video with the Mark III, and completely wowing my client, I got home and tried to import the footage into Final Cut Pro 7 via the E1 plug in within Log & Transfer. I got an error message about the file structure which is typical if the .thm files are missing…mine were not. After some online research I found this to be a common problem, and was reassured that my problems would be solved by downloading Canon’s new E1 plug in V1.4 for the Mark III, and would hence be able to use L&T to upload. Again…no luck. Same error message. Is this for real? I tried to not let the frustration get to me…it was enough that I had only five days to edit this video and had not even figured out how to transcode the footage yet….little did I know so would begin my spiraling into transcoding hell.
I tried using Compressor to transcode the footage. It crashed. I tried using Quicktime 7. It crashed. I did some more research online and came across a promising software that would convert the footage from H.261 to Apple ProRes 422 for me called 5DtoRGB. They had two versions on the Apple App store, the lite version that would transcode one file at a time (really?) and a batch version for $50 that would process multiple files at once. I bought the batch version and gave it a go. Out of the first four efforts, it got stuck four times, forcing me to do a hard shutdown of my computer because my external HD would no longer respond. I emailed Apple and they have since refunded my $50 back, although I am still without a transcoding solution. Should it really be this hard?
Enter Final Cut Pro X.
After months of ignoring FCPX, I finally came to the conclusion that I would have to learn and use the new version of Final Cut Pro after reading online that FCPX could transcode my media from the Mark III natively. If I had to use the new software then so be it. The time clock for editing this video was steadily ticking away so I re-activated my Lynda account and commenced to watching the Essential Training videos for Final Cut Pro X. After about 4-5 hours or so I was finally ready. I begin trying to import my Mark III files and all looks good. Then out of nowhere I get an error message…..NO!!!!!!!!!!!
“The following clip encountered an error during import and is still referencing media on the camera”
What????? Are you kidding me??? Import failed. I tried and tried again…no luck. I finally discover that although this message pops up, the media is still importing so I get a little hopeful. All I have to do is stay in front of my system for four hours and hit the ok button every time the import failed window pops up to resume the “failed” import. When it was finished I checked the events folder under transcoded media and all of my files “appeared” to be transcoded.
I attempted to start my edit within FCPX right away but noticed a strange lag in the software…not the usual lag that is forgivable due to CPU constraints, but a lag of about 3-4 seconds for every single move and click of the mouse! Final Cut Pro X was unusable! I tried rebooting…same thing. I’m now about ready to quit when I get a bright idea….I’ll import the files from the transcoded media files into Final Cut Pro 7 and edit like I normally do…and it worked!!!!
The video was completed, with a couple nights of no sleep, and all was well. My workflow had been fixed. Or so I thought.
When looking at my transcoded media files again I noticed something very strange….NOT ALL OF MY FILES HAD BEEN TRANSCODED!!!! On top of this, FCPX was making copies of the original media even though I unchecked the box that says to do so. WHAT GIVES????? I now had unneeded duplicate copies of my files and missing transcoded files.
In moving to a new video project, I tried using FCPX again to transcode…same error messages, same duplicating of original media, same missing transcoded files. Is this a joke? Apple? Canon? I am now without a solid means of transcoding my media other than doing it file by file in 5DtoRGB lite. To add insult to injury, my E1 plug in inside FCP7 no longer works correctly, I’m assuming due to the V1.4 upgrade (LOL!!!!) so my Log & Transfer is now totally useless in FCP7.
I have always been a happy Final Cut Pro user, and while everyone started to jump ship to Adobe, I decided to stay on the sinking ship. Now the hypothermia is starting to take effect and I have no life raft to grasp onto to save my sinking editing workflow and therefore productivity.
Somebody throw me a line here……I’m desperate. I don’t think an editor should have to go through all of these hoops and hurdles just to import footage into an editing system. Maybe I’m wrong….maybe Adobe has this all figured out. I’ll go see….
Thanks Apple. Thanks a lot.
Sacramento emcee Chuuwee drops by 90.5 KSJS for an exclusive interview with Naughty Seatty before a performance at Agenda Nightclub in San Jose, CA. In the interview Chuuwee discusses the creative process behind Crown Me King, Wild Style, and being co-signed by the likes of 9th Wonder, Alchemist, and Mistah FAB. Chuuwee also discusses his writing process and touches on his The Usual Suspects crew.
Show footage taken at Agenda Nightclub in San Jose, CA.
Set in Chinatown, San Francisco, the black and white color scheme helps to set the tone and look for Chuuwee’s “Beastie Boy!” video, my favorite track from the Wild Style Album. Going along with the 90′s hip hop theme Chuuwee and I discussed, we decided to give this one a cinematic but retro feel. The city of San Francisco gives the video that gritty downtown ” little Manhattan” look which is sort of atypical for west coast music videos. To play off of a theme in one of Chuuwee’s other videos, we decided to have him being monitored by a field agent of some sort, either FBI or CIA, although we never really know for sure (maybe foreign intelligence posing as FBI?). One thing that is for sure is that Chuuwee’s charisma on camera helps to convincingly pull this off, perfectly playing the role of the “usual suspect.” The beautiful Melissa Bettencourt playing the role of the sexy field agent also provides some visual appeal, making the story come to life.
Matty Slims performing “Weed & Beer” © Open University Productions 2012.
Produced by C-Note for Open University Productions
Directed and edited by Amadeuz Christ
Matty Slims & C-Note “The Sunset District EP” available here:
Open University presents: Ab-Soul performs his 1st headline show at The New Parish in Oakland, CA then gives an exclusive interview with 90.5 KSJS’ Arman “Strong Arm” Mahmoudi discussing Control System, his growing fan base, and linking up with Danny Brown for “Terrorist Threats.” In the interview Ab-Soul also touches upon the origins of TDE and the benefits of having such a dynamic in-house production team at his disposal.
Thanks to Matt Posada for this one…..
In this episode of “Fresh to Death” Unsa Suhail gets an exclusive interview with the mighty 9th Wonder to discuss the producer “brotherhood” and creating a regional sound in hip hop. 9th Wonder also touches on the impact of the digital age, while also elaborating on westcoast emcees Fashawn, Blu, and Kendrick Lamar. He also hints at the possibility of signing Sacramento’s newest sensation Chuuwee. Footage taken at The New Parish (Oakland, CA). Event by Tastemaker Live and presented by Open University, in association with KSJS Hip Hop.
Additional photography by DJ Combsy.
90.5FM KSJS/Open University present a Fresh to Death exclusive as StrongArm sits down with Evidence, following his performance at Avalon Night Club on The Grouch who Stole Christmas Tour. Evidence spoke on his latest album, Rhymesayers debut, “Cats & Dogs”, as well as wanting to work with Mos Def, past and future work with Dilated Peoples, upcoming music with long-time collaborator, The Alchemist, as well as commented on performing with Atmosphere and Fashawn on different tours.
Footage was taken at The Avalon Night Club, thanks to Ineffable Music Group, DJ Aspect, Tim House, DJ Fresh & Rhymesayers Ent.
Paid Dues. The name is kind of ironic because that’s exactly how I feel we have done since we started all of this about this time last year. In the start of 2011, I was a rapper moonlighting as a part-time video director with one no-budget music video under my belt trying to find a loop hole within this entertainment industry. Now here we are, a dedicated staff, 24 PR/Interview pieces, and 10 music videos later, with more footage and videos to edit than we can actually handle. Life is great when you work hard.
Anyway, Paid Dues was nuts this year, I just wish we had time to watch the actual performances although politic’ing backstage was kind of rewarding in its own right. Saw the homie Fashawn. Got interviews with Tiron & Ayomari, RA the Rugged Man, Chase Infinite, Alchemist & Oh No (Gangrene), Brother Ali, and Souls of Mischief that should be posted soon. Paid Dues was a very refreshing event and everyone there was on some real positive energy…shot out to the homie Sahtyre and the whole Swim Team. Finally get to see Tyler the Creator act a fool. Kendrick’s show was insane.
Interviews coming soon….
Thurz is one L.A emcee that we have been trying to connect with for a while now and we finally got a chance to this weekend while in L.A for Paid Dues. I originally wanted to shoot the video for “The Killers” but due to time restraints, and us wanting to shoot something new and fresh, we decided to shoot two other videos for some soon-to-be-released material from Thurz that is super dope. Can’t give you everything right now but let’s just say that Thurz will be dropping some real dope content before summer. This guy has a sharp director’s eye and a natural charisma in front of the camera so look out for these visuals. On set Thurz also played me a few new joints he’s working on….dope dope dope.
The west coast is on fire right now…
might be a good time to move to L.A.
Dom Kennedy stops by the 90.5 KSJS station for an exclusive interview with Arman “Strong Arm” Mahmoudi, in this Fresh to Death exclusive presented by Open University. In the interview Dom Kennedy discusses performing in the Bay Area, the recording process behind From the Westside with Love 2, and his future collaborations.
*This footage was taken on the W$GT$ tour in November 2011. Catch Dom Kennedy on Tour right now on the This is Dom Kennedy tour and look out for The Yellow Album dropping soon.
Live performance filmed at the Avalon in Santa Clara, CA. (Event by Ineffable Music Group)
“Honesty is a blunt instrument that often bloodies more than it cuts.”
- Robert Green
This is about control.
The control that you are not willing to give up simply because you cannot…not be in control. If this matrix was designed to keep us blinded by the monotony of it all, then we are truly the architects of our own imprisonment. We have created a system in which we are all harmoniously synchronized, swimming in an endless sea of repetition we are unable to unplug from. Our very existence is dependant on it.
Lady in red.
You have broken this.
They tell me that you are a distraction. They tell me that you are just a program placed here to break my focus, a temptation for me to lust after. They tell me that you aren’t real. But I like to imagine that you were created just for me, that you are the Eve of this Eden in a time before our eyes had been opened and our ignorance no longer blissful. It is the looks you give me when you walk by me, in those split seconds of vulnerability what you reveal that keeps me up at night wondering…why you never speak?
But maybe I’m imagining this all in my head.
…and you are just a figment of my imagination.
But in those split seconds of vulnerability, where you are no longer in control, I can see what you want me to…and I wonder. I wonder if for you is it equally as hard to keep up the charade of these two personalities, sometimes unable to tell which is which, as is it for me? Is it as difficult to hide your…real self? I wonder why on the outside you appear to be so calculated, but on the inside there is a part of you that wants to loose…control. I wonder if this is what you are trying to tell me…
But maybe I’m imagining this all in my head.
…and none of this is real.
Maybe you are just a program. But in those split seconds, I can see you. I can see the fortress that you have created in your defense, the chambers of which very few have entered into much less been given the key to. I know of the treasure you are hiding, the secret you are keeping locked away for the one who has the ability to unlock it. I know of your passion, your wants…I know who you are…and I wonder…do you know who I am?
Or am I just imagining this all in my head?
Maybe I’m wrong…and you are just a program.
Maybe you are just a figment of my imagination, designed to distract me…to break my focus. But I like to imagine that I was created for you…placed here into this matrix only to satisfy your every desire. I like to imagine that my touch was specifically designed to suit your body, my hands crafted to soothe your soul from any ills of this world. I imagine that your heart beats to the same frequency as does mine, but…
I think that I am just imagining this all in my head.
And you will never speak because the stakes are too high for either of us to be playing this game…
A game where neither one of us can afford to give up…control.
Because that is what this is about…
Lady in red.
Unsa Suhail and Freddie Gibbs discuss signing to Jeezy and CTE, P.O.C, and his current career situation for an Open University/KSJS/Fresh to Death presentation. In the interview Freddie Gibbs also discusses the importance of the internet and online presence, and also touches upon the controversial topic of Oscar Grant and problem of police brutality.
Footage taken @330 Ritch in San Francisco, CA.
C-Note, Dem One, IL Twice and Noah Deeakili performing Power of the Third. © Open University Productions 2012.
Directed and edited by @AmadeuzChrist
Open University presents: C-Note: Keepin’ It 100 available now