This is my blog log of things I think about, want to write about, but haven't had the time or place to do much with it all. I'm all about getting discussions going through comments/replies, and gettin' all deep and shiznit. Sometimes I just feel like posting a question, other times I gotta just let it all out and ramble... hopefully I'm not alone with it all.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Nothing too philosophical...

But it was an interesting day nonetheless...

So I have this visual ethnography class at UWB that requires us to get in small groups and create some kind of visual ethnography on a specific culture/sub-culture that we can locally access. So, being the hip hop head that I like to think I am, I made a push for an ethnography on local hip hop artists in the Seattle area. Believe it or not, it was last on the list of APPROVED topics, so it grew wings and took flight. Unfortunately we encountered a head wind, so we didn't get too far for a while. Actually, we theoretically started this like a month and a half ago, but didn't start any filming (it's a video ethnography) until a couple weeks ago, and didn't even get our first interview done until last Thursday (the 26th), and this is due in like 14 hours. Luckily our professor knows what troubles we've been falling subject to, so only having two interviews will be ok (it's the experience that counts!). The first interview was with a local producer/MC, Odeezie (yes, that is the name he likes to go by), and it went very well. He was one of my main contacts, and he's been pretty helpful in the last three weeks, so I expected things would go well. Then we were supposed to interview two or three other MC's on Friday... yeah, that didn't happen. Nope, not Saturday either. And... not Sunday either. (Basically, I was going solo all those days with one group member in Texas for his daughter's high school graduation, and the other says he lost my cell number, and I had no way to get a hold of him.)

So Monday and grabbed my balls, threw 'em over my shoulder, and decided I would have to do this by myself (which has been the story of this project). So I call up Don P, a local MC/producer in Rainier Beach... down in the ghetto, to be more descriptive of his area. He says he's willing and able to do the interview, even though it was a decent Memorial BBQ-day, and I head down South...

After getting lost (a little), I finally made it to the Safeway to meet him. I waited in that parking lot for like 20 minutes, watching all these cars drive in, drive through, and drive out, playing the guessing game of which car would be his, and what kind of car will he drive. I knew he was kind of the bling-bling type (gold teeth anyone?), so I was imagining an SUV on dubs, a mid to late 90's Lexus, or maybe a good ol' hooptie. Nope. Guess what he rolls? It was a (and this is for Pete and Miranda) 240DL. Volvo baby!

Nonetheless, we meet, drive up to a park where he's meeting some friends, and we procede to get loose... drinking Mickeys, smoking blunts like they grew on trees (the man never was without a blunt in his hand), and filming damn near everything that was happenin. That included drug deals, and plenty of illegal activity all on film... and he liked it. Ok, it makes for some raw and rare footage, probably unlike anyone else's group projects in the class.

So we kick it for a bit, then decide to part ways with the group of 15 or so thugs (ask me for the footage sometime...), and head over to his friend's flat to do the more legit interview (the park was to get a feel for his environment). We get there, and I guess his friend had peaced out. It happens. So we decide we'll just roll around in a car and get some hand-held camera footage of him in his hood... in my car... while I'm in the back seat... and his girlfriend is driving (MY car). It's cool; no problems from it, and I got some good footage. Then we decide roll up to MLK (damn near 3010, for those who know), and kick it at his... well, it was kind of an older father figure type guy... not a dad, not an uncle, not an older brother, but family... but we kick it there so I can charge my camera battery. Don P is smokin a blunt out back, and he starts gettin deep in his thoughts, so I turn the camera onto him... the interview is happening now (while he's high of course). Again, I got some really good footage. So we decide to roll back down south (it's been like 4 hours by now - not your average interview...). A little drinkin while drivin, cuz you know, that's how we roll down in the SEA (no, that's not how I talk now)... smokin some blunts, bumpin Don P's beats, and the guy does a few minutes of freestylin for fun... nothin special, but the guy has talent. So we drop his girl off, and continue to try and meet up with Mioshi, a.k.a. Black Sapphire, who was my hopeful female MC to interview. On the way to her place Don P gets back into that freestyle mode and just goes off! I kid you not, for like 20 minutes straight he was spittin to his beats non-stop, and that shit was tight! Changed up styles, tone of voice, delivery, you name it, he did it, and damn near perfectly. Then I figured out that this guy is legit. He's not a wannabe MC, or a wannabe producer (all his beats were very good, to be honest, and his recorded cuts were pretty damn good too)... but this guy has solid talent that is ready to make it big. If I could have recorded that whole freestyle, well, I just wish I had it on tape. And not to mention he has gold teeth... well, gold caps, but they cover six teeth.

Anyway, we go to Mioshi's, and she's now apparently "busy"; what that actually entailed, I don't know, but the interview was not to be. So we decide to head to Skyway Park bowling alley, where he kicks it a lot (in the bar). In the bar we meet up with a few of his old friends (from like 6th grade and high school, and he's 31), and the three kind of rule this place... they're like the three kings... all somewhat big time drug dealers. They talk about how they need to get the other dealers on their level to hold out from their sources for a couple weeks to drive the prices down (telling them they just aren't selling a lot), and likewise raise their selling prices (telling their buyers that it's just dried up)... shit like that... all on film. Oh yeah, I'm the only white guy in the bar, nonetheless I'm standing/sitting there filming these guys... but by being with them I was already accepted, which was good. The four of us go for a drive (in my car) to smoke some MORE blunts (this had to be like numbers 25-30 by this point in the night, but I held out and only smoked on like 3 of them throughout the day). Again, they get into some heavy talking, which unfortunately was not on film (just that "deep" stoned-talk). Then we head back and drop those guys off. Don P is about ready to call up another girl for a night cap, so we cruise back to "the village" where we started the whole driving escapade, where his car was at. That was the end of the night.

Here's the thing: Odeezie now wants me to help him film part of his music video this summer, and Don P wants me to do solo work filming a full length DVD on him. To be honest, if he paid for the tapes, I'd probably do all the filming and editing for free, but he says he wants to pay me for it. Whatever... I know it wouldn't be too smart to expect much out of the deal, but if he wants to pay me, that's cool. Either way, it will be an experience...

So the kicker to all of this is that I'm thinking about broadening this horizon of filming local hip hop artists... when I took live footage at the Rainbow (on 45th) there were MCs just drooling to get on film. Actually, when I met Don P at the park, at the beginning of that whole adventure, all his friends were loving the camera and wouldn't leave "center stage", flashing their bling and just gettin all crazy. The point being, this is a niche market that hasn't been tapped in any way, and I now have the means to do it (new computer and all). Who knows what the future holds, but if Don P ever made it big, I'd be the guy saying "yeah, that first old video of him, that was all my work...", and that'd be cool with me. I have the connections, and the physical means to do it... now it's just gotta be done.

In other news from the area, I'm heavily considering moving to Australia in February for two years of post-grad work for my masters degree in psychology :) Did I mention that Aussie girls have been said to love American guys??? It would probably replace my previously planned trip to India, but I think I'll deal with it...

1 Comments:

Blogger Milkshake said...

You are f-ing crazy Pete, that rocks. What is this Australia stuff? Call me soon. Oh, and look at the comment on the may recap post on my blog, and go to this website--it's so weird--www.elpus.com.

6/02/2005 1:32 PM

 

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