In an industry saturated in low budget hood videos, where do you start if you want to take your visuals to the next level. The first thing you need to do is sack your mate with the newest iPhone. No seriously, sack him. It’s 2021, you shouldn’t be filming your music videos on a phone. Filming content for your social media on a phone is fine, but even that can be made more appealing with some simple hacks like using a tripod or a handheld phone gimbal. The second thing you need to do is work out what your budget is. “I don’t have a budget!” I hear you cry, well, the cold hard fact is, if you can’t put some money into your craft then the music business probably isn’t for you. I’m not saying you need thousands of pounds to hire Jamal Edwards, but, if you want to take your visuals up a level there will be some young budding videographer out there that just spent his student loan on a DJI Ronin and a Sony A73 with a 50mm lens that’s hungry to shoot! In my experience, the going rate to hire someone like that is around £150 – £250, unless it’s your cousin and he is happy to help you out for free.
So you’ve set your budget and found a videographer that can work within that budget, what do you do next? Sit down with your videographer and plan your shoot! Don’t just tell him to come to your mates yard whilst you’re all getting blazed, that’s played out! You want to videos to stand out from the oversaturated crowd. I’m not saying you need to change the game on a £150 budget, but right now, in 2021, you need to be thinking outside the box! Now then, a lot of rappers really struggle with this, it’s almost as if they’re programmed to embark down a money cash hoes path, possibly due to the influence of the rap videos from the early 2000’s, which, in the right context can be dope, hella cheesy, but dope. Let’s face it, you’re not a crack dealer from Brooklyn washing your drug money through the music industry. However, if you’re one the UK’s top shottas and you’re looking to wash some of that money you made importing Cali weed by your hand at rapping, disregard this whole paragraph.
How do you get creative with a rap video? Well, for me, if you are going down the route of just rapping at the camera then your location has got to be next level! In this style of rap video, location is everything. The more interesting the location, the more interesting the video is. If you can find a location with multiple points of interest, even better. When you’re sitting down with your videographer and you’ve found that abandoned theme park that nature has reclaimed, discuss angles, discuss continuity (for example, if you’re filming and the natural light changes, try to reflect that in the edit). Extra notable assets to help your video look next level are things like the use of props, extras and maybe even costumes/wardrobe.
I can’t stress enough how important preproduction is, even if you’re filming a hood video that’s got a little bit more creativity involved. Make a shot list, create a story board, take some test footage. These are all simple steps that can potentially unlock something creative that you might not have achieved by just turning up and filming on the day. Don’t be afraid to draw influence from some videos that already out there, it’s hard to be original, especially in the UK Rap scene. There some amazing UK Rap videos out there, for example:
Remember, think outside the box. It doesn’t have to be too far outside the box but you really want to separate yourself from the crowd instead of going down the same old route and sticking to the usual played out hood video attributes. If your videographer is up to it, at the editing stage, depending on what frame rate and format he shot the footage in, talk to him about speed ramps and slow motion. These two hacks can add creative transitions within your video.
The last thing I want to mention is grading. Your video needs to scream quality, even if you have just stuck to the hood video format, you still need to squeeze every last drop of quality out of your footage. Personally I like cinematic grading wish washed out blacks and faded whites with oversaturated colours. Something like a Shaw Brothers Movie filmed on 35mm film, I mean obviously you’re not going to get it to look exactly like 35mm but there’s some great plugins and filters out that can be a cheap fix to your footage looking dismal. So with alkl that being said and done, I wish you happy filming!