Illmatic Revisted: Interview With Brian Katz, Director of Nas’ “Represent” Video

 

Brian Katz hit the jackpot. Katz is a native New Yorker now working at a marketing agency in Los Angeles with no experience making music videos, but a contest by hip hop culture magazine Mass Appeal (for which Nas is listed as an associate publisher) gave Katz a shot at directing the latest visuals from Queensbridge’s own Nas, an artist Katz has been following since his own New York days as a teen two decades ago. To make it even sweeter, the contest called for treatments for a video for “Represent” off of Esco’s classic 1994 debut effort, Illmatic, with Nas himself picking a winner. 

The resulting product features Nas, more than 20 years older than the youthful Nasir Jones rapping on the track, sitting on a couch and smoking a cigar as film of a 1920s silent movie flashes around him, with shots of a young Mr. Jones interspersed throughout. Speaking from coast to coast, I talked on the phone with Katz to chop it up about the once-in-a-lifetime experience creating the video.

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Sure Shot: Photo Rob Captures Hip Hop History

 

Robert Adam Mayer, better known as Photo Rob, is a New York-based photographer who while not limiting his work to hip hop, has become a staple in the hip hop community. He’s photographed the likes of Rakim, Kool Herc, Q Tip, Questlove, Busta Rhymes and more either on stage or in photoshoots, and has even recently had his work featured in a museum. Find out how he moved his way into the business and stays on top of his game.

 

Afropolitan Dreams: Blitz The Ambassador- All Around The World/ Respect ft. Emicida (Video)

 

I know Blitz The Ambassador is a upset that his home country of Ghana was recently eliminated from this year’s World Cup, but when you’re globetrotting while pursuing a dream, it’s hard to stay down. So Blitz liberates these new visuals shot in the 2014 World Cup’s host country, Brazil. “All Around The World” lives on Blitz’s most recent Afropolitan Dreams album, and “Respect Mine” featuring Brazilian emcee Emicida finds itself on the prelude, The Warm Up EP.

Daniel Crawford: “The Awakening” (Album)

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The Awakening from jazz keyboardist Daniel Crawford is a must listen. Crawford is so adept with his keyboard that all of the instruments on the project are played on it by Crawford himself. That’s almost literally unbelievable when you listen to the drums throughout.

This album has jazz, soul and even a little rock at times. The Awakening features the likes of Vikter Duplaix, Amp Fiddler, Cleveland Jones and flutist Monet. The 12-track album is also the second in a trilogy of albums following his 2012 debut Red Pill. Enjoy!

Cayso- Tight (Prod. By Sole Grunt) (Music Video)

 

Cayso dropped his Katie Heard Noises EP last July, but here he drops a new video from the project. “Tight” is directed by Shane Petty and features animated and some semi-psychedelic visuals for the Sole Grunt produced single. The song has a light playful feel to go along with a versatile flow that’s not lacking in clever metaphors.

Scribbling Idiots: “Pass It”

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Scribbling Idiots is a collective of emcees and producers that represent several states throughout the U.S. and the UK. They released their project Invitation Only in March, and this posse is one of the standout cuts off of it. While you may be used to hip hop songs talking about passing a certain substance around in a circle, Fred Bruno, JustMe, muzeONE, Jurny Big, Griffin & EF Cuttin just want the next man to pass the mic.

The Roots: “Understand” (Music Video)

 

The Legendary Roots Crew is one of my favorite musical acts ever, and I’ve been jamming to their music for pretty much my entire life. Admittedly some of the offerings off of their upcoming album …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin have left me less excited than the initial announcement about the project, but this single has to be the strongest one thus far, as you get to hear Black Thought actually show of his supreme emcee talents. The video, animated by Joe Baughman, is also very dope. The album drops Monday, May 19, but you can preview the whole thing HERE.

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