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June 12-15 & July 16-20, 2011 NEW FRONTIER New York City / Newfoundland
 
  Hip Hop Hustle
  Of course, New York City is rich with musical talent, so On the Beat and Path decided to focus on the Hip Hop street scene at Times Square in Manhattan.
 
 
  Anchors Aweigh in Newfoundland
 
 
North American Muppet Sessions  
Recorded in Manhattan, New York, USA, June 15, 2011
Coming Late December
Recorded in Newfoundland, CANADA, July 20, 2011

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Good, clean fun vs. Bad, dirty fun.  
Ahhhh, our most ambitious shoot to date: two countries, one city, one park, a moose, and a missed opportunity.

As wonderful as our "job" is, and you will rarely hear us complain (except for Randall, but that’s with good reason, we give him all of the jobs that would make one complain) there are some things that we would like to change.  For example, and I expect zero compassion from anyone, is that we no longer have holidays.

Gary and I know how it looks on the outside, as though our life is one big frolic-filled, beer-for-lunch holiday, and you are sort of right.  However, even when we do want to take off and have some down time, we are overwhelmed with the desire to capture what we see, hunt down music and essentially have to "work".  Brazil was evidence of this and so was the summer of 2011.
First stop was New York City.  Everyone’s favourite transit point: a city where anything can happen, the street meat sucks (and that’s ok) and any wrong turn will end up right.  I realized quickly that I was no longer in Malaysia as every time I stopped for a beer (something that I believe is obligatory along the micro-beer-soaked streets of New York). I found that the bartenders went out of their way to get me drunk.  Normally, this sort of attention and generosity would not be frowned upon but at two in the afternoon, the catholic guilt clicked in.  Then I realized it was merely catholic guilt and further decided to enjoy the ride.  I quickly realized that when you are drinking on a Monday at two in the afternoon in New York City, you meet some very interesting people.

The first person I met was Lou. Lou was, for lack of a better word, a tad weathered. Lou was old and could have been between the ages of 40 and 80 for all I knew. It was about 45 minutes in to our conversation before I even realized that Lou was a woman. I have to assume that was the fault of her cigarettes. Lou was a photographer, she loved wine, and while enthusiastic about my project, initially appeared to have little affection for anyone who wasn’t serving her a drink. The bar staff doted on her like caring children and Lou tugged at my heartstrings. She shared stories of her as a young artist, about her photography, the eventual theft of her art, and about her youthful, passionate affair with hockey sensation Rod Gilbert (one of those things is most likely untrue). I was enjoying both the conversation and the free drinks blessed upon me by the bartender (they work for tips in America you see) but recognized that if I didn’t leave this dark bar, I would have stayed to hear the end of the Dark Side of the Moon album they just started playing. So I wished Lou luck, gladly provided my tender her 100% tip (my bill came to $4 US and I had the equivalent of about four pints) and headed back to my hotel.

Along the way, I ran in to what I so endearingly refer to as my urban reception line while cutting through Times Square. Clusters, or shall I say numerous posses of young rappers, were formed along the road looking to sell their albums of independent hip hop to tourists, locals, sanitation workers, travel show hosts, really anyone willing to dish out money for a DVD-R of their music. This is hustling done New York style and it is very entertaining. I always love a good conversation and already being half in the bag, and seeing as I was a travel host on a show based around music, I decided to see what the fuss was all about.

Talking to rappers, if you are not in the know, can be a little confusing. I consider myself on top of all things current: I am aware of fashion, trends, twitter, the Kardashians, dubsteb, foie gras and even if I wasn’t, I would fake it. But sometimes, talking to rappers requires an iPod App that instantly translates the unknown spoken word.

Rappers speak in catch phrases and tag lines on repeat. They use their hands as though they are speaking to the hearing impaired and have next to zero attention span. One never has to worry too much about touching on religion or politics with a rapper because it takes about fifteen minutes just for them to introduce themselves. But for these reasons, I was enjoying myself immensely.

There were about four crews of rappers selling their wares on this day: Team Sonar, Square Free Crew and at least two more crews that I couldn’t quite decipher but had individual names like Known Intelligence and Dollarmentary.

I love Hip Hop names.

They allowed me to film and they participated in "limited" interviews …

Steve: "So what do you guys rap about?"

Rapper 1: "You know."
Rapper 2: "Stuff we see every day."
Rapper 3: "Day to day stuff, you know."
Rapper 4: "Chillin'."
Rapper 1: "From the streets."
Rapper 4: "Day to day stuff."
Rapper 2: "Girls."
Rapper 1: "You know.  You know."
Rapper 3: "Just livin' it. Toughin' it out.  Day by day."
Rapper 4: "What we know."
Rapper 1: "You know!"
Coming Soon
Steve: ummm…moving on.

And then came the moment I was waiting for my entire life.  One of the rappers, I believe it was Justin Case a.k.a. Dollarmentary asked if I could help them shoot a music video.
 
Bonus Scenes
 
  What? There's a clean version of this song?
  For adult audiences only.
Coming Soon
 
   
  For the Newfies
 
z
“It isn’t for the song I Eat The Pussy, is it?”, I asked. Because as a soon-to-be father, that is not a credit I want in my artist byline.

It wasn’t.

I didn’t have a lot of time on my New York stay, but the opportunity to go all Hype Williams in Central Park was too much to resist so I happily accepted. I shared that because of my limited availability; it would be extremely beneficial if everyone involved was organized and ready to go on the set time. This seemed reasonable to all parties. They asked if we could start in Queens and then travel to several undisclosed locations throughout New York and in the boroughs. I didn’t see this being a problem.

“Can we use guns?”, one of the rappers asked.

“Are they real guns?”, I responded.

[silence followed by immediate laughter by everyone except me]

Once my heart slowed down we all agreed to meet the next morning at 10 a.m. to shoot what would undoubtedly be the most epic hip hop video ever shot in four hours in New York City.

I spent the night making notes and coming up with creative ideas.  While this wasn’t my city, I was able to look at it with new eyes and could see opportunities everywhere.  I also knew my place and would only offer ideas if there as a stale moment or it appeared we were merely remaking a Mase video from 1996.  I didn’t own a shiny shirt and Randall was still in Malaysia.

The next morning I went to the designated corner in Times Square.  By 10:15, I was still waiting.  The other hustlers were now arriving trying to get some early morning sales.  By 10:45 I started pacing, asking the other rappers on the corner if they could help locate my crew.

Half pretending, they didn’t know about whom I was talking:

Rapper: "Who you looking for?"

Steve: “You were selling CD’s with them yesterday, I have you on film, RIGHT HERE” (I showed them footage from my camera).

Rapper: "You going to buy a CD?"

Steve: "You gave me one yesterday."

Rapper goes back to selling CD’s to tourists.

11:30 comes and goes and our window to make a video was quickly closing. If I only I had a cell phone, this whole scene could have been avoided. So much for going ol’ skool.
I took the opportunity to film more of the hustlers in action. By 12:20 I went home. I checked my email to find a letter from the rappers.

“Sorry we missed you today. It took a long time for all of us to get our act together and bike in to town from Brooklyn. Can we do it tomorrow?”

We couldn’t do it tomorrow. I was leaving that day.

Wait a second. Bike?

At some point that morning, there were eight gangster-looking rappers cruising over the bridge into Manhattan on ten speeds? THAT’S THE VIDEO!

So, an opportunity lost, but a story gained.

Up next: the Newfoundland blog.

Catch us live somewhere on this planet.


Peace.
Steve
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Mission: On the Beat and Path provides a window into the planet's love and longing for music, using music as the primary language of global communication in order to develop a multi-media outlet for the sharing of music, travel and friendship.
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