With a conscious lyrical delivery, Providence hip hop artist Eric Axelman has a unique way of speaking his mind through his music. He follows a rhythmic structure while bouncing words off a beat like a basketball on the pavement. As part of a series of music videos in support of his 2016 debut album Too Much, “Nice To Me” got put out to the masses on August 4. A primary member of the music collective The Funk Underground, Axelman gets nostalgic while showing clips from him growing up in Maine. He also explores the woods and rides a canoe while thinking about life in general.
“We filmed this video last November, right as the leaves were starting to turn, in the woods and river near the house where I grew up in rural Maine, and where my parents still live”, Axelman says on the making of the video. “I really love the changing of seasons as an artistic concept, and I wanted to show fall as representing something beautiful that’s also moving towards death. A big part of the video was trying to look at both growing up, and watching ones’ parents get old, and both the beauty and tragedy of those things. I’m really interested in what it’s going to be like, if I ever have kids, to have my kids watch me grow old, and eventually die. The cycle of life is so bizarre, but because it’s inevitable, I really want to find beauty in it, and that’s what I was trying to do in this video.”
“A big part of the video is clips of various home videos that my parents shot from when I was basically a newborn until when I was around 7 or so,” Axelman mentions, “I watched hours of home videos to make this, and found individual clips throughout that I thought showed my and my parents’ personalities well. I wanted to show the progression of my aging, as well as that of my parents’, in the juxtaposition of the home videos and the current shots. We tried to shoot in a lot of the same places the home videos were shot in, as my parents still live in the house I grew up in. I also wanted to make a video that I could watch when I’m older, to see what it was like to process my aging at year 27.”
The visuals are all organic and there’s a sense of realness within each scene.“The video was shot and edited by my good friend and frequent collaborator Nik Damants, who’s edited all the videos from my recent album Too Much and co-directed most of them,” Axelman continues on how the video was made, “I also really like how understated this video is, especially compared to some of the other videos I’ve done. We didn’t do any green screen shots for this one, or any real special effects, and it’s basically me hanging out with my parents, cut with shots of me hanging out with them when I was quite a bit smaller. I also wanted to show how grateful I am to my parents. They’ve always wanted me to be happy, and prioritized my happiness over any other forms of traditional success.”
“I wanted to say thank you to them, as I’m incredibly lucky to have had such loving and supportive parents, and I hope I can be as good a parent as they were, if I ever have kids of my own, “ exclaims Axelman on his upbringing. “This is the last video from Too Much, and we’ve now started working on a couple new videos, the first of which we’ll be putting out late in the fall or early in the winter. I’m still making a lot of music, but most of my time these days is focused on running Pushed Learning and Media, a non-profit I started with Nikolos Gonzales and Oliver ‘SydeSho’ Arias. We’ve just gotten three grants, from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the Rhode Island Council of the Arts, and the Dexter Donation Fund, to do an educational tour of Rhode Island Public Schools this upcoming school year work doing anti racist educational work grounded in hip hop, and our organization is also working on our first feature length documentary, and we’ve also just started out second.”
To see the work Axelman, Gonzales and Arias have been doing, check out Pushed Learning and Media’s website at www.pushedlearning.com. Enjoy the video and give your ears a taste of rhythm and rhymes.