Brazil. Rio de Janeiro. Being mad famous as an artist means you must really be talented. Which means you really must be sensitive. Which means it must be really weird to be really talented and really famous. I often found Pharrell inside of a complex bubble. A strange almost debilitating safety bubble that somehow traps him inside his own little world of art. Everyone deals with this differently, I always loved Pharrell’s attitude of reverse wonderment. This photo is a personified instant of mutual momentary wonderment.
My first official music video was for Aceyalone’s “I Think.” I was fucking geeked just to meet him. He came up to the Cal Arts film studios and we shot in a few hours. I remember once it was edited and colored I drove down to Project Blowed on a Thursday night and gave him the video on a 3/4 tape. We played it on the projection screen. I was so nervous. A young white boy in the hardest most legitimately judgmental spot in LA. Once it was over, everyone chanted “again” and we played it again. Afterwards, he walked me out to the trunk of his Impala and gave me an old Freestyle Fellowship poster and a handful of “Mic Check” stickers…and to me, I had arrived. 16 Years later we’re still smoking together at Project Blowed.
I wanted to breathe through my mouth, as to not smell anything, but I remember thinking I’d rather smell it than let the filthy air and flies into my skull. But before we left I told everyone I wanted to make one last walk through the encampment. Alone. And just be there by myself for a second and attempt to get centered and just be thankful. So I walked away with my camera hung around my neck. The streets were narrow and full of corners, making it mostly impossible to see very far. I came to an intersection of 4 streets and just stood there. I took a deep breath, watching and listening. Out of nowhere this little girl ran right into the sunrise light, and stood there staring at me. I smiled, fumbled with my camera and got it. The camera clicked in slow motion, and she ran away, as mysterious as she had arrived. And I swear a part of me is standing there still…
My other brother from another mother, Alan The Chemist. This was in The Salton Sea. A terrible place I suggest you never visit. It was 134 degrees with the heat index. Every thing is dead. The rotten lake is so salty the fish can live only long enough to spawn before beaching themselves, creating an endless cycle of rotting fish on the water banks for miles. The stench is unreal. The fish feed the flies, which attack you by the billions, burrowing into all your open pink areas, eyes, ears, nostrils… There was the largest dust storm of the decade that day, and to top it all off, on the drive out there we pulled the cube truck over on the highway and we picked up a dead pitbull I spotted. He was about 3 days old, pretty much intact and was just too fucking perfect for the “Gangrene” piece we were shooting, so I pulled the parade over and we loaded him up into the cube truck. Unfortunately the only Vehicle with working AC was, of course, the fucking cube truck. So even the AC was horrifying, with the rotting dog and maggot water coming out of the cold vents. Amazing video BTW. “The Sickness.”
This was on the trip I ran with Cudi as we assembled SOUNDTRACK2MYLIFE. Usually “Tour” videos are shot on the road and the actual imagery is almost an afterthought. This was a particular amazing run with Cudder as we all knew what we were building, so he would go that extra step with me. Be it on stage, or in a quiet interview, he always pushed and was willing to go a little further, almost like 2 wasted childhood friends with the giggles. The more you know you’re not sposed to laugh, the funnier it gets…“Until someone gets hurt,” as my mom would say…So we raged, and created the wizardy that is SOUNDTRACK2MYLIFE.
Jay Electronica in the Himalayas. That’s “Sagarmatha” (caucasianly known as Mt. Everest, the highest point on the planet Earth) behind him. The air was so thin at almost 15,000 feet the Helicopter had to take us two at a time up and back down the mountain to reduce the weight. 30 minutes after we took this photo, a HUGE fog bank flew up the valley towards us, forcing all of us to rush down towards the Nepali Airport. The fog was too thick, we ended up making an EMERGENCY landing on a riverside, not even halfway back. I SWEAR I thought I saw the Helicopter rotors slice into the hillside as we hugged the mountain on the way down. We landed with a metallic thud, and all of us needed 5 minutes to download what had just happened. But we settled right in, and spent the night there waiting for the storm to pass. Listening to the Himalayan river that would eventually turn into the Ganghis, myself, the translator, the Pilot, the D.P. and Mr. Electronica shared stories with a tremendous bottle of Johnny Walker to keep us all warm and so appreciative, and so, so alive.
Young Buck and I were chillin’ In Cuba on a roof top smoking. There were a few runs with him where no one but he and I smoked. So we often would find a rooftop or alley to slip away for a few moments and puff one. He was a true stoner, and would always let me know he “got a fat ounce coming,” or “a fatty of some Kush” cause he knew I took my Cannabis as serious as he did…for breakfast.
“I once asked my mum when I came out of Japanese prison for possession of LSD, I asked her, how come I ended up in there? And she said, oh, it’s simple. You lost appreciation for the fundamental values of life.” –Robbie