Dave Meyers’ frenetic imagination has conjured some of this era’s most recognizable music videos. Active since the 90s, his resume consists of over 200 projects with a genre-spanning list of artists from Jay-Z to Mick Jagger.
A chance meeting with Good Will Hunting filmmaker Gus Van Sant inspired Meyers to pursue videos and he landed his first MTV slot in 1997 with underground Oakland duo The Whoridas. The Californian director’s most iconic work includes eleven of Missy Elliot’s career defining videos as well as visuals for Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad” and “So Fresh, So Clean.” He won a best video Grammy Award in 2005 for Elliot’s “Lose Control” and has also received eleven MTV Awards.
Meyers recently took a three-year sabbatical to pursue film and advertising, but is now diving back into capturing music. During more than an hour of conversation, we discussed a fraction of his filmography and thoughts on industry issues such as lower budgets and product placement. He discussed early interactions with Kanye West, shooting with Nas, making 44 videos in one year and a whole lot more.
Do you think music videos have worth in 2015 or are they in danger of becoming content for content’s sake?
They certainly have regained value for me. I took a three or four year break there and focused on commercials. What I’ve learned with the reach of a music video, especially to it’s fans, is there’s nothing quite like it other than maybe Jurassic Park [laughs]. It’s a very strong connection that artists still maintain with their fans, even more so than ever, because of the way the Internet is. To be part of that and to be a creative entity associated with that is kind of the purpose of filmmaking, or my particular passion. I’ve reached out to all of the folks you’d expect me to reach out to and we’re brewing some cool stuff that is coming our way. You’ll hopefully see some collaboration later this year with Missy [Elliot], Janet [Jackson] and there are a variety of things that might be coming. My passion for videos is alive and well and as I think the artists have sort of gotten used to the lower budgets, the resulting climate is a push for creativity.
While entrenched in Southern rap heritage, Big Krit aims to chisel his own path through the polished grill wearers and double-cup sippers. Too smart to be ignorant, too worldly to be preachy, he embraces the challenge of pleasing fickle fans, carrying tradition and promoting the culture of his oft-ignored state Mississippi. The 28 year old is a veteran of the digital era’s exhausting release culture with six mixtapes, two albums and two EPs released since 2010.
Producing and rapping across 200 songs in four years, a sub-plot developed around Krit’s talent. Was he creatively burnt out? Would he make concessions to chase the elusive hit single? Krit’s 2012 Def Jam debut Live From The Underground was decent, but not quite the grand reveal fans expected.
Last November, he finally silenced speculative fears with his sophomore album Cadillactica. Krit outsourced collaborators including Dj Dahi, Raphael Saadiq and Jim Jonsin to share his vision as well as working on expanding his own production universe. The concept record about a planet created by 808 drums showcased a reinvigorated Krit cultivating his introspective lyrics while dabbling further in storytelling, singing and contemporary flows.
Now taking a deserved breather to consider his next move, I asked Krit about his early records, if he’s still chasing commercial success, what draws people to country rap and why he decided to take this album off-planet.
What was your first local hit in Mississippi?
Man, the first record that I did in Mississippi that got played on a radio station was called… ha, “Adidas 1’s in the Club.” It was basically a remake of Crime Mob’s “Stilettos (Pumps),” but we did our own version.
Did you start with a cliché street sound on your very early records before you found your own style?
Oh yeah, definitely, because I was a hardcore Three 6 Mafia fan too. Just a lot of the instrumentation and a lot of the content was extremely aggressive, so it was like more of a shock value thing of just how aggressive and how violent you could be on a song. I was probably like 13 or 14, man, and you grow out of that pretty fast because you grow to the point where you start playing your records for a lot of people that actually know you, older people, and they know damn well that you ain’t living that kind of lifestyle. In the beginning it was just your imagination ran wild on a record, and you could pretty much rap about anything and everything under the sun just to kind of build this superhero character of yourself on record.
Jason Powers, better known as Elzhi, has dealt with the death of close friends and the break-up of his group Slum Village, but he still sounds as passionate as ever.
“It’s more than getting paid. You can’t even put into words how it feels to put the mic out and have the crowd finish your sentence. I love to create. I love to write something, put it down in the studio and play it back. It’s a beautiful feeling man. I do it for the whole experience."
Elzhi joined underground favourites Slum Village in 2001, a group often praised as the reincarnation of A Tribe Called Quest. Legendary producer J Dilla was partly responsible for bringing Elzhi into the group and helped him to get his first paid music gig.
Sadly, Dilla passed away in 2006 after a battle with Lupus disease. Founding Slum Village member Baatin also died three years later due to mysterious circumstances surrounding a struggle with mental illness.
After their 2010 release Villa Manifesto, Elzhi announced his departure from the group citing shady managers and underhanded labels.
Despite a traumatic decade, he says he never considered quitting rap. “The way it affected my music, it made me want to get a lot more personal. You can’t just bottle those feelings up inside, so the only way I know how to get them out is express it through my music. It’s almost therapeutic for me. It’s almost like medicine.”
We Do It Right magazine is lucky enough to be speaking with Detroit emcee and producer Bronze Nazareth for its very first interview. Bronze is known as an integral part of the new generation of the Wu Tang family and his production credits include Raekwon, Gza, Rza and Immortal technique, as well as having a solo career and being part of the group Wisemen.
Firstly, Bronze thank you for taking the time out to answer our questions!! What’s up with you at the moment?
Right now I’m taking a break from mixing out the 60 Second Assassin album, also finishing an album for the 67 Mob, some cats from BK who linked up with me for their album. I’m also recording my solo School For The Blindman and working on a new Wisemen album. Quite busy at the moment.
For those who don’t know about you, tell us a little about your background and how you first became affiliated with the Wu Tang family. Did Rza mentor you to an extent?
Born in Grand Rapids, MI, which we call Gun Rule. Got with Cilvaringz who led me to Rza. Rza heard some joints and gave me five minutes to speak to him, I splashed him with some heat and he asked me to join the Wu Elements! Moved to Detroit some years ago, and began diggin in with the Wu camp. Nah Rza didn’t really mentor me, more so he gave me a push, so I could take my car to the gas station and fuel it up myself.
As far as producing records, what is your mindset before you go into the studio?
My mindset is on nothing really, I may be in a certain mood or feeling some way and that will drive what I’m looking to make. I don’t ‘try’ and make Wu sounding beats or anything, I sit at my board, and find something I like, chop it, play it, cut it, do whatever to get the sound I want to get out of it. I don’t go in trying to make a hit, or whatever, it’s simply me feeling the music.
I know that you don’t go by many aliases which is definitely a good thing. What does the name Bronze Nazareth mean exactly?
If you’ve ever seen the 18 Bronzemen movie, my name is symbolic of the struggle they went through to exit the temple and go into the real world. Nazareth is symbolic for the Prophetic Jesus of Nazareth, I see myself as a sort of prophet or soothsayer for my people who listen.. so really it’s all symbolic and can be compared to my modern struggles.
Israeli progressive metal band Orphaned Land released their first concept album Mabool, in 2004. After receiving rave reviews for their unique style of Oriental and Middle Eastern music, they are now working on a follow-up with prog legend Steven Wilson.
Guitarist Matti Svatizky spoke to me about Orphaned Land’s seventeen year history, beards and the Israeli metal scene.
Hi Matti, it’s a pleasure to interview one of the creative minds from such a great band! Before we start, I must know what happened to your beard? I thought it was pretty glorious haha.
Hey man, what’s up? Thanks for the compliments, they’ll get you everywhere! Now for the more serious business, my beard! The truth is, in band photos it may have looked cool, but in real life it turned out to be a disaster, so I really had to let it go.
For those who are new to the band, can you describe what Orphaned Land is all about?
Well, visiting our website (orphaned-land.com) is a very good idea. You can really learn a lot from there, hear sample music, see my ex-beard, see the rest of the guys etc. But to sum up what we’re about, I’d say that we play metal with ethnic touch. The metal we play is influenced by the whole metal genre and has aspects such as thrash metal, heavy metal, death metal, doom metal, black metal, progressive metal and so on. However, our music is not inspired by metal only, but from other genres as well. We consider ourselves to be open-minded music lovers.