Interesting Project….City of Gods Son is “an experimental movie for the blind/hip-hop opera” starring Nas, Jay Z, Ghostface, Biggie Smalls, Raekwon, Samuel Jackson, Delroy Lindo, and Laurence Fishburne. Download it for FREE from www.CityofGodSon.com
Some words from the director…
“City of God’s Son (COGS) is all-things: an epic, a musical, a soundscape, a movie for the blind, an art installation, and a coming of age story. Through its blend of multiple media and art genres, COGS explores new grounds for unconventional storytelling and ultimately gives rise to the world’s first “Beat Cinematic”. I arrived at this term by combining various mediums including 3D audio, original music production, sound design, and dialogue samples. Using some of hip-hop and film’s greatest talents, I wanted to create my own cross-medium ensemble cast and out of many mediums create something epic and new. Hip-hop is the perfect choice for this because, like this project, it is a genre created using only the resources available and re-contextualizing them to create something bold and innovative.
More than just a remix or mash-up, COGS comments on the icon of the gangster, the media obsession with this character, and its function within hip hop culture. Homage to arguably hip hop’s most culturally potent era, COGS explores the mythology behind musical icons and gangster film icons alike, and creates a world in which the two co-exist. COGS ties these together by playing off of the listener’s familiarities of these genres and re-contextualizing them within a coming of age crime drama set in a mythical jungle metropolis.
The story explores the relationship between father and son and the struggle to define themselves in a world where their futures appear economically preordained. COGS riffs on the icon and myth of the gangster used generously throughout the history of hip-hop and American pop culture. The story embraces both the dichotomy of such societal reverence and media obsession with the moral quandary such a lifestyle calls into question. By using some of the genre’s most influential artists and manipulating them into characters that humanize and at times contradict their media persona, COGS aims to dissect concepts of machismo and push the envelope for using music as a more directly narrative medium. It also interweaves many classic crime film samples into the sound design and score of the piece, melding together the world of film with music into a new format of visceral soundscape. And in all of this there is the unique invention of self-proclamation; artists labeling themselves, touting beefs with other artists, and challenging the status quo.
This project is inspired by the many nights I spent roaming the city late at night as a graffiti artist as a kid, often just listening to my walkman. I was always inspired by the transformation of space at night versus daytime and how music and graffiti connected the two worlds. It is with this in mind that I am trying to connect the mythical city in COGS to the musical and cinematic memories in the listener’s mind. By playing with the listener’s psychological and nostalgic associations with verses from well-known songs and dialogue from films, COGS creates its own mythology threaded together and playing off of familiar stories and plotlines and in effect sampling the listeners memories of music and film to create a new cross medium narrative.
At that time (mid 90’s), before reality TV, before hip-hop became THE commercial music format, the culture and its marquee artists were larger than life characters. Through this project I seek to ressurect some of that mythology by reinserting the very personas these artists promote to sell records, and putting them in a more human and vulnerable coming of age crime saga where they are now young men looking up to the gangster icon characters played by their father figures (Sam Jackson, Delroy Lindo). It has been said that film is the manipulation of space, and music the manipulation of time. Thus COGS is a manipulation of the deleted scene, the unreleased song, the space in between image and sound that connects the two.
Many of the beats I produced for this project have a layered meaning to them; the sample, the arrangements, the artist on the song, the verse, the placement within the story, the tone, all of these factors play into a larger dialogue, cultural commentary and narrative function. The function of this project is to change the function of music today from a disposable single based format to a longer form experience that may require several listens to fully digest, much how one would watch a film. It is with this ear for detail that I first heard Joe Bataan’s music (which was used as background music in a skit on The Fugees The Score album) and sought it out. So I wanted to flip the function, instead of Nas rhyming over a Joe Bataan sample, I wanted Joe Bataan to tell a story over a reinterpreted Nas record, and create a dynamic soundscape that has its own cultural/historical meaning behind it completely unique of the original song’s tone or message, and connecting the past to the future, all within an epic greek tragedy.
Being primarily a visual artist for most of my life, it always struck me that there was always some kind of disconnect in what vision I had in my head, and the process of how that translates to the canvas. I always appreciated the process of creating that image and the execution, but I always found that there was no such thing as the exact image in your head being on canvas, in fact, I found that most of the strongest points in creating work were in the unintentional mistakes that pushed the piece in another direction. While the interpretation and process of that thought may prove successful in the creative process, what about that thought in its original form? It is with this in mind that COGS aims to create within the listeners head their own completely original visual interpretation based on a combination of visual associations with films and their own personal association to rap verses they recognize. Through visceral sound, created through an intricate mix of sampled sounds, sound bites, and rap verses, one can create something completely unique in their own mind made from something created out of thousands of appropriated sources.