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Behind The Camera With Video Director Myster DL

We’re in the age of the music video, and few video directors have been as trusted by real heads as…

We’re in the age of the music video, and few video directors have been as trusted by real heads as Myster DL. Creeping up on his 250th video, he’s worked with acts like Redman, Sean Price, Styles P, Chuck D, Cormega, and more. That’s on top of film/TV, and commercial work that’s helped make ILL Mannered Films such a bankable brand in the game.

His demo reel speaks for itself.

The 36-year-old director recently sat with AAHH for an exclusive interview, fresh off of the release of his latest video for Kool G Rap, “Running.”

How did you get involved in directing videos?

In the height of my music career, I started doing music videos in 2011. I always had an eye for photos, and I took a video editing course in college but only to fulfill course requirements. I took to it instantly and got a 100% as a grade. This did not inspire my career it’s just a fun fact. About seven years after that I was on set for a music video, and the director didn’t show up, so I said to the artist “give me the camera I’ll shoot it.” Everyone had a chuckle, and I filmed it, edited on iMovie in a few hours and we put it out. It took off right away.

About ten videos later I was shooting videos for Sean Price, Cormega, Sticky Fingaz and more. When I say right away, I mean it. My film career took off quick because I already had a name and had made so many legendary connections during my music career it was easy to approach artists because I had already produced records for most of them.

Who was someone you looked up to when getting into the game?

My all time biggest influence was and is Cypress Hill. Without Cypress Hill, I doubt there would be a Myster DL. I might be someone completely different. I always enjoyed Hip Hop, but Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday album made me want to create it. The music eventually turned into making music videos which turned into making films. Cypress Hill appeared in my 1st film, and I consider them friends and peers. Eric Bobo and I have a few projects, and B-Real is on my next album.

What have been career highlights for you?

My highlight was defiantly my 1st film A Sea of Green. I spent three years working on that movie. I wrote, directed, filmed, edit, produced and even acted in it and it features a slew of legendary rappers. Another moment that comes to mind is my mom seeing my name on HBO and of course directing videos for iconic MCs like Sean Price, Chuck D, LOX, and Redman.

Tell me about the concept for your latest visual for Kool G Rap.

I filmed three videos that day. It was a 19-hour ordeal, 10 of which was traveling back and forth. We did videos for songs with Kool G Rap, Freeway, Lil Fame, Term & Saigon. The “Running” video was supposed to come out 2nd, but things got moved around, and we went with “Running” 1st. I knew instantly I would incorporate running into the video. I didn’t want the video to be a too gangster because the 1st video we shot was a gangster movie set to a beat with all the rappers acting. So for “Running” I wanted to tell a story using bits and pieces of the MCs lyrics and manipulating it into a story about struggle.

Do you have any crazy on-set stories (from any shoots)?

I have a lot but will try not be incriminating. I’ve been on set with some big rappers that were mostly cool and some that we had to put in their place. One of my most memorable on-set memories was Chuck D driving me through Brooklyn telling me stories about the early days of Hip Hop and how he helped Ice Cube deal with his fame. I rarely pose for pictures, but I took a few that day. On the set of the Kool G Rap “Wiseguys” video, the NYPD took control of my drone and crashed it because we must have been in a restricted no fly zone.

I was arrested in Brownsville, Brooklyn shooting a video for Rock of Heltah Skeltah and was locked up in the 73rd (peep my Words) for a few days over a half ounce of weed. When I got out I called Rock and said “hey man sorry I got arrested, ” and he said “no sh*t.” It took us years to finally do that video. Multiple film sets have had the police gearing up ready to take us down because they got so many calls of people brandishing guns. In our defense, they were props — mostly.

What advice do you have for up and coming directors?

Put out quality work and brand yourself. Start and end every video with your logo or info. All my videos start with my ILL Mannered Films logo, and if you don’t want it to start that way, there is a lot of other good directors you can get. In an age where everything is visual, and blogs are sustained by videos, I’m surprised they rarely credit directors. By the way, this goes for nonfamous producers also.

The rapper gets all the credit for the concepts and the quality of the videos. This has happened to me countless time. You know what the rapper does? Raps. Sometimes not even that as a lot don’t know their rhymes and the director has to make the viewer not realize that. These blogs aren’t going to give you your credit so give it to yourself. I’ve done 235 music videos, and sometimes blogs still leave my name out.

What do you have coming up?

I have an ongoing documentary web series that is currently out called “Rewind The Scenes” where I look back at some of my biggest videos and go in depth on how we made them. I have episodes for over 30 legendary acts so far. I have a 10 episode comedy TV show coming out soon called The Weekend Warriors, which is wild and also features so hip hop heavyweights in some hilarious situations. I am also beginning production on my 2nd full-length film. It is an urban crime drama called As Thick As Thieves, and of course I am approaching my 250th video. Who will it be?

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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Florida Wants You To Know That “Rapping” Is Back In Style

There’s something about Florida that’s taking hip-hop back to its roots. In recent years, America’s favorite genre has continuously become…

There’s something about Florida that’s taking hip-hop back to its roots. In recent years, America’s favorite genre has continuously become more about beats and aesthetics than lyricism and rhyming. Not to write off any ‘new wave’ artists doing it big, but let’s just say when a tape drops with beats by Metro Boomin, I’m there for Metro.

Florida rap is different because it has garnered an underground scene that thrives by producing lyrical artists. This underground scene has recently been compared to that of Brooklyn’s in the 90s, where real, gritty, bar-for-bar rap is making a huge comeback. But to fully understand the difference between underground rap in Florida and mainstream rap from places like Atlanta, New York City, and Los Angeles, you have to know about some of the scene’s best —and most overlooked — artists.

Denzel Curry

You can’t discuss Florida rap without bringing up XXL Freshman Denzel Curry. Denzel began to establish himself in the new wave of underground hip-hop after Spaceghostpurrp created the group “Raider Klan.” Raider Klan never got the full attention it deserved, but it did put some promising MCs on the map before it fell apart, and Curry wasted no time growing a successful career of his own after the fallout.


His rapping style is experimental, to say the least; what stands out is that he is rapping. Imagery and wordplay alone could earn him recognition, but this isn’t what makes him stand out. He possesses the unique ability to turn rhymes on their heads in the blink of an eye. By quickly switching his densely narrated flows, Denzel throws curveballs at his listeners and accelerates his stories like no other modern MC. Listening to Denzel Curry is like enjoying a novel; you always leave with more than you came with.


Nell is another MC who emerged from Raider Klan’s underground presence. With a unique style based on straight up bar-for-bar rapping, Nell’s old school sound is not unintentional. Every track off of the mixtape “90’s Mentality” is just that — a throwback to the golden age of hip-hop.


Nell’s rap style is vintage yet progressive, tossing meaningful lyrics over rough, chopped and screwed instrumentals. Nell is essential to Florida’s underground scene because he’s making music that young and old Hip-hop heads can vibe with, together. The nostalgia associated with 90s rap has given a voice to MCs like Nell, who are focused on rapping ability alone, as opposed to fashion and money so distinctive to many mainstream artists.

Ski Mask the Slump God

Ski Mask the Slump God is making waves with his insane combination of new and old school rapping. He is one of the most notable young MCs — commercially — who tends to focus on rapping fast. Sure, a lot of new age rappers can go fast, but most separate their bars with an (aye) or (yea) whereas Ski Mask just can’t stop. The young rapper’s catalog is as diverse as it is consistent. Every song consists of wildly different sounds and subjects, but Ski Mask is always so addicting to listen to.


He also incorporates aspects of metal and hardcore rock in his music. If you listen carefully a lot of his songs sample bands like Drowning Pool and Slipknot, but even when he isn’t sampling it you can hear a standard rock kit somewhere in his beats. The rap/rock combo has been a historical part of Hip-hop; traveling down the stream from groups like RUN-DMC and M.O.P to bless modern Florida through rappers like Ski Mask the Slump God.

So maybe its the southern heat making everyone a little crazy, but something is making people want to rap in the Sunshine State. Trap music is helping expand Florida’s audience by drawing lots of attention to Miami with rappers like Lil Pump and Smokepurrp, which may help Florida’s underground scene grow in popularity. Denzel Curry, Nell, and Ski Mask the Slump God are just a few who are helping redefine what it means to be in the ‘new age’ of Hip-Hop.

All three of these artists have music available on major streaming services, but Soundcloud is the go-to place to hear their extensive catalogs. And if you are interested in hearing more of the Florida underground here are some artists you may want to check out: Pouya, Rell, Wifisfuneral, Robb Bank$, Yung Simmie, Lofty305, and Fat Nick.

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You Should Be Excited About Rich the Kid’s Debut Album

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good

Atlanta via New York City rapper and Rich Forever Music founder Rich the Kid is set to drop his solo debut full-length in 2018.

After years of mixtapes and collaborations with artists such as Migos, Young Thug, and 21 Savage, Rich invested in himself and founded his label, Rich Forever Music, in the early spring of 2016. The first artists to hop on board were Chicago rapper Famous Dex and producer The Lab Cook, with whom Rich collaborated on the label’s first two tapes, Rich Forever Music and Rich Forever 2. In the fall of 2016, fellow New York City spitter Jay Critch signed to Rich Forever and, less than a year later, appeared with Rich and Dex on Rich Forever 3 – one of the best mixtapes of 2017, in my opinion.

Concerning his solo work, Rich signed to Interscope Records last summer and got to work on his full-length debut. The hype only grew in September when Rich dropped one hell of a single, “New Freezer,” with Kendrick Lamar. The landmark track rides an icy trap beat and showcases Rich’s talent as a hook-writer. Oh, and Kendrick snaps. Hard.

Only a few days into the new year, Rich announced via Twitter that Rich Forever 4 is on the way, featuring the same trio as its predecessor. On January 7, he posted an Instagram video of himself rapping along to an unreleased track with the caption “Finished my album last night now what should I call it?”

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good.

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Migos Announce “Culture II” Release Date + Cover Art

One year after Migos “changed the culture” with their sophomore album, they plan to do it once more. Migos announced…

One year after Migos “changed the culture” with their sophomore album, they plan to do it once more. Migos announced Culture II via Instagram on Monday night, with a release date of January 26, almost one year after Culture (now certified platinum), took the world by storm, moving 131,000 copies in its first week. The announcement comes after a late 2017 interview with Montreality, where Quavo was vocal about the group’s new sound.

“We’re creating a whole new sound [with this album.] Hip-Hop has changed in a big way, so you could mark this down as we changing.” –Quavo (to Montreality)

The album is led by the Pharrell-produced single “Stir Fry,” and the Cardi-B assisted “Motorsport” — both of which are tearing up the Billboard Hot 100. While little is known about the project, Quavo promises top quality production. “CULTURE II WAIT TILL U C WHO EXECUTIVE PRODUCED IT” the rapper tweeted back in October. Check out the announcement below, and pray the trio release the tracklist soon.


A post shared by Migos (@migos) on

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Lil Pump’s Team Finesses Their Way Out Of WB Deal

With a successful debut album under his belt and a “xan-free” 2018 ahead, Lil Pump is now entering the new…

With a successful debut album under his belt and a “xan-free” 2018 ahead, Lil Pump is now entering the new year as an independent artist. According to Billboard, The “Designer” rapper recently terminated his contract with Warner Bros., stating he was only 16 when he signed.

Famed entertainment attorney John Branca wrote a letter to the label on Pump’s behalf, reaffirming the age issue, and further arguing the contract was “never certified by the court,” Billboard states. Warner Bros. Larry Mattera, the labels VP of commerce and marketing, said:

“We, as a company and as a label, needed to build and establish more of a presence in the urban space. They (clearly) had insights and relationships on the urban side of the business in the network landscape.”

The “Gucci Gang” rapper is well positioned as an independent artist and is rumored to be fielding offers anywhere from $8 to $12 million, according to Complex. The young Soundcloud breakout is already a high-paid sensation. In December, TMZ reported that Pump received a $345,000 advance on his debut album, in addition to 15% royalties. The album moved 46,000 copies its opening week, and its lead single “Gucci Gang” is still moving. Former Warner Bros. CEO Cameron Stang Praised the rappers business savvy, telling Billboard: “They’re innovative spirits, and they don’t take no for an answer. Pump is an incredible artist; he’s got fantastic charisma and a huge personality, with lots of talent and no fear.”

Lil Pump isn’t the only one making serious moves in 2018. Fellow Soundcloud rapper and childhood friend Smokepurpp recently signed to Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Records and is finishing up a highly-anticipated collab album with Murda Beatz. Pump recently released his latest track “Trap Jumpin” featuring Juicy J, which you can find below.

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