My first video project was for an assignment in Latin class my Junior year of high school. It sparked an interest in me to visually express myself, which I carried over into my collegiate career. At the University of Tulsa, I founded a film club to bring together talented individuals from a variety of trained and non-trained backgrounds to write, direct, and act in student-led videos. Post college, I have continued producing shorts and documentaries, with several showing in the Saint Louis Filmmakers Showcase as well as the Saint Louis International Film Festival. In December of 2011, I decided to work intimately with the hip-hop music scene in Saint Louis to create music videos that would highlight each artist in ways that would challenge conventional thinking on what a hip-hop music video could and should be. I continue to collaborate with Saint Louis artists in the hip-hop scene to promote and show the creativity of the city, and my blog serves as a source of local hip-hop news for others to discover new music, new videos, and new perspectives.
So (hopefully) by now you've heard some of the hip-hop heroes of our city that are making headlines with their personalities, music, and videos. The next step in supporting and understanding the scene is to experience live performances first-hand, and there are certainly no shortages of venues that regularly feature hip-hop shows. From the Fubar in Midtown to the Atomic Cowboy and the Gramophone in the Grove, every week you can easily (and cheaply) sample some of Saint Louis' finest. This upcoming weekend has a trio of shows jam-packed with acts, and it's a great opportunity to go to your first hip-hop concert.
August 1st, 1981 is the day that changed the music industry forever. No longer were musicians and artists boxed in to fighting for radio time and TV spots to make their voices known. Music Television, or MTV, came into existence, and thus, music videos were born. Music videos are another medium for artists to showcase their creativity and craft, and they can offer a unique visual style to compliment the tone and meaning of musicians' songs. However, with the falling cost of video equipment making it accessible to more and more individuals, the market for impactful music videos has become terribly saturated, resulting in many replicating and repeating common themes that make most videos blend together instead of standing out. My goal in creating music videos for Saint Louis hip-hoppers is to create distinct stories with purpose that work in tandem with the music, and also to bring back the art of videography.
Within the last year, several artists have created breakthrough hits that have infiltrated the radio and created major followings. The highlighted tracks in this article are the need-to-know tracks for anyone wanting to know what's hot. At any club on a Saturday night, you can hear Saint Louisans dancing hard and screaming out every lyric to these certified-fresh songs.
The music genre of hip-hop has been around since the 1970s, with most tracing its roots to New York City DJs who experimented with percussion on their turntables. Since that time, the style and culture of the music has morphed each decade, gaining popularity and becoming mainstream in today's top billboards. For Saint Louis, Nelly has been the face of our hip-hop scene due to the commercial success of his 2000 album Country Grammar. Unfortunately, not much has changed in 12+ years, and although there have been several short-lived breakthroughs (ala Chingy, J-Kwon), local artists go relatively unknown outside of the STL bubble. However, the future is very promising, as there is no lack of talent from our city.