Unity Feat. Stic.man of Dead Prez
TRT: 4:29 (CC) Street Version Version
Organized Elements / Sound Vise
Director: Trevor Parham
Cinematographer: David Gilbert
Producer: Unity Lewis
Production: Eklectyk Creative Media
Editor: TP & DG
About Let’s Ride:
On May 22, 2010 I had the opportunity to open up for Dead Prez for their “10 Years After Let’s Get Free” show at the Rockit Room in San Francisco. The next morning after we performed at the Dead Prez show, we had to pick up Dead Prez member Stic.Man from his hotel room in San Francisco and get him back to Oakland so that we could shoot a music video while he was in town for a song that we had recorded together called “Let’s Ride.” “Let’s Ride” was the B-Side to the “Gangsta” Maxi-Single and both songs were to be featured on the upcoming OE/ Soundvise/ Fontana/ Universal release,”Audio VeVe Part 1” the EP.
The basic treatment for the video is as followed; Unity and stic.man ride together, spreading the message of unity in the black community, by way of sharing knowledge in the form of verbal communication and passing out a little red book.
The little red book is a reference to the Black Panther Party starting of their movement by circulating Mao Tse-Tung’s “Little Red Book”. The little red books that Stic.Man and I are circulating however, are branded on the front cover in gold with the Dead Prez Logo (a Shi Hexagram meaning “army’) and my logo (Unity written in Funk Letters with the hieroglyph of three flags meaning “The Gods”).
The video takes places in four general locations:
The Strategy Room: A dark smoky room where Unity prepares for the ride and plans out his trip.
The Ride: A lowrider that Stic rides through the hood and uses to pick up Unity and spread the message.
Streets of Oakland: Various street corners where Stic and Unity have encounters with other G’s and people on the block to spread the message.
The Gathering: An outdoor backyard gathering of brothers, sistahs, and gift bearers to whom Unity spreads the message.
The shoot with Stic.Man was amazing. We filmed the video on Athens and 27th Avenue, which is right in the heart of West Oakland. I was able to rent a really cool lowrider for the shoot, but we accidently blew up the hydraulics overusing them the night before, so we didn’t get the opportunity to hit any switches in the actual video. We were just filming and doing our thing, when all the people who lived in the neighborhood started to come out of their homes wanting to be in the video, volunteering to be in the video. When you look at “Let’s Ride”, that video is a real reflection of that community. We ended up saying that this video is “starring the Black community”, a reference to the legendary Melvin VanPeebles film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”. Everybody from the block came out – kids, elders – and we got to feature them all in the video.
This was the first video published through my Vevo account, and the first video that I had professionally serviced by a video promoter. I also had a magazine and blog publicist helping the video to get spins so it did fairly well. Although “Let’s Ride” was considered too militant for the video execs at MTV, because it was also a tribute to Oscar Grant, it was widely circulated online, on CMC network TV, in shoe stores, clubs, bars, bowling alleys and places I would have never expected it to be viewed, all over the world. A friend of mine lived in Korea and said she saw it being played over the monitors at a club out there. My students would come to class and tell me that they had saw my video on television before they came to school. Once, I was walking down the street and a young man asked me if my name was Unity. He said he had seen my video while he was incarcerated and that my message uplifted his spirit during those hard times he was facing. Thats how I knew that the video was serving its purpose.