Following the reaction to “So Cool,” I asked the creative team behind the music video to share their thoughts about the project and what’s next for the city’s creative community:
Brian Winkeler, Creative Director
I have a confession to make. My first concept for the 2012 ADDY Awards creative wasn’t “Cool.”
It was “Cool $#!*.”
I volunteered to direct the show creative at essentially the last minute and my first thought was to do something cheeky and provocative to highlight all the “cool $#!* that the OKC advertising community produces each year. Because I am a one-man freelance band I assembled my pro-bono “Dream Team” of local creative superstars: producer/director Steve Jones, photographer Simon Hurst, designer Phillip Schroeder, audio engineer Matt Kemp and web guru James Harber. We were ready to go.
Alas, “Cool $#!* was rejected, so we simply cut the $#!* and quickly realized that maybe we had something that could be much, much more than simply a boastful faux-expletive.
I started exploring what “Cool” means in the context of OKC’s creative culture right now because I’m truly feeling energy and excitement from both my peers in the industry and, most importantly, the younger generation of students and professionals who are enthusiastically planting roots and making waves in town.
I’m both a huge fan of local music so I started thinking about how we could incorporate it into the production. I’d successfully licensed songs from local acts Penny Hill and Chrome Pony in 2011 and I thought that if we’re celebrating cool, local, creative culture, it would make sense to promote the idea of supporting artists from our thriving music scene to the other creative directors and producers in town.
I didn’t know Jabee but was aware of his videos (especially his powerful “V-Dub Sessions” performance) and the idea of exploring the soul of OKC through an original rap video seemed like a fresh, fun, and relevant creative solution.
The clock was ticking so I was hesitant to ask Jabee to commit to writing and producing an original song within such a short window for no money but with the promise of free studio time, a killer video and total creative autonomy. I wanted him to give us his take on what “Cool” means in the context of OKC 2012. And boy did he deliver.
Steve Jones, Director/Editor
Having produced the intro video to the ADDY awards in the past, I know the amount of blood, sweat, and (unbillable) man hours it takes. But, when Winkeler calls, you know it’s going to be a project that will challenge you creatively.
I knew we wanted to get out there and show the parts of OKC that make the city so cool. Brian and I took initial inspiration from the opening credits to HBO’s “How to Make it in America” and how it captures the essence of NYC. Not the tourist bits… but the real stuff. We wanted to take this idea and give it an OKC spin.
Then I got a text message from Brian after meeting with Jabee for the first time. I think it read something like “WE’RE GONNA MAKE A RAP VIDEO MUTHA*****!” This could be gold.
Upon meeting Jabee and co-writer Denver Duncan and discussing their thoughts about the project, my commitment level on the project became much deeper. I knew we were onto something bigger than just another ADDY intro.
I came across another source of inspiration for our shooting and post-production style: “Barbra Streisand” by Ducksauce. While showcasing NYC, this video energetically focuses on the people on the streets all around town. This approach really struck a chord in me and I shared the video with the team.
We all agreed that showing the people of OKC, from the professional to the impoverished, from kids from the Congo, Iraq, and Kenya to the upper crust private school elite … all these diverse cultures and demographics existing together is the essence of what makes OKC cool.
I needed to shoot Jabee performing his song in these areas, in the grit, on the streets. We shot guerilla style, showing up unannounced and quickly getting the shot. We even had Jabee walk down Commerce St. in the middle of the day without stopping traffic.
It was critical for me to show the real faces of the city, and hopefully inspire people to look around as they’re driving to work or the movies or to lunch. Look at the faces, places, and corners of OKC. We did… and I came away from the project with a renewed vision of this COOL city.
When I first got the call to meet with Brian, I was excited to do something new but did not know what to expect. When Brian let me know his vision and that he wanted to give me the freedom to write what I felt. I knew from jump I wanted to add Denver Duncan to the song. At the next meeting with Steve, Matt, Simon, and Brian I realized it was gonna be huge.
I still didn’t know what I wanted to write, I just knew I didn’t want it to come off corny or just like a bunch of name-dropping. I sent Denver about 10 beats to listen to and we went back and forth for about a week on hook ideas. We were still unsure on beats because we had so many ideas if we were to start from scratch. But time flew and we had to just go with what we had.
Then he finally called me with the hook. I only had the first few lines written on the first verse and no idea where to go after that. So I just told myself I wouldn’t force it and just let it come, and it did. Actually, I wrote the majority of the song at the studio on the spot.
I recorded the song and when I left the studio I was unsure about it. I didn’t think I did 100 percent. I didn’t listen to it again until the first day of shooting the video. I did such a horrible job none of that first footage made the cut because I didn’t know my words.
When I played it in the car on the way to the second scene we shot (where I’m walking in the middle of the street), I listened to it over and over and realized I really liked what I said and I enjoyed the picture we painted of our hometown. I felt so bad for not listening and being prepared to shoot so I learned it and had it down by the end of the shoot that day. When Steve showed me footage on the camera I knew that the video was gonna be major so I wanted to represent!
I’d like to point out a few things in the lyrics that really mean the most to me and I feel best represent OKC in its true essence.
“My feet touch the ground
I feel the city breathin’
Feel the heart beatin’
Write words to the sequence
Every day is different
Suburbs to the street kids”
That’s all I had written when I showed up to record. It’s a reference to the heart and soul of OKC. I also wanted it to be a metaphor for tornadoes (“city breathin’”) and for the recent earthquakes (“feel the heart beatin’”).
“Oklahoma Krush Groove”
One of my favorite movies is Krush Groove. For hip-hop, Krush Groove is a movie that holds true to the original essence of hip-hop. I like to think of my music as the “Oklahoma Krush Groove.”
One word to describe
Where my brother lived and died
On these streets we survive”
My brother was shot and killed in OKC on 09/10/01, the day before 9/11. He was killed on these same streets I walk everyday. There are many of us out here just trying to survive day to day. I put this in the song because it’s a reality that not everyone realizes exists in OKC. I want to share my brother’s story anytime I get the chance. Not just for him but for me, my family, my bros and my sis, my parents, and my friends who live this reality every day.
“And I feel it on a rise
Lost tribe 405
Felt the rain
Felt the pain
Then of course thunder came
That’s the game winners bring”
I feel our city is on the rise. We are setting the groundwork for 10 years from now when OKC will be the poppin’ spot!
We felt the pain refers to April 19th but I didn’t want to say it specifically because I didn’t feel the need, and I wanted to stay away from obvious name drops and try to keep it open. And Thunder, duh! We gonna win a championship! I can feel it!
“How they describe it
I’m laughin’ I ain’t never seen a wagon
I’ve been all over, east coast, west coast, and it never fails – people always ask if we drive covered wagons instead of cars! I ain’t never seen a wagon foo!!! If I have it was on TV just like how you seen it! I have seen lots of action though!
“Live and breathe passion
Live the dream, give action
People need compassion
Everything we ever dreamed”
And I’m out.