I recently had the experience of doing my first multimedia project. When we decided to work on a profile of a rapper, I thought it would be like delving into a rapper’s experiences which seems to involve living on the streets and having a passion for explaining the struggles it takes to come out of them.
With that said, you can imagine I had a few assumptions of what meeting Asian rapper, Josh Mei, would be like. It turns out I actually ended up changing some of my own personal biases about rappers in general. Mei is a 2009 graduate of Ohio State University and both of his parents obtained PhD’s from West Virginia University and are currently professors here.
But I learned more about Mei than his credentials and the success of his family. I have done profiles of people before, but none this extensive. With this project I was able to see and speak with him one on one and get to know him personally, but I also attended two of his performances where I saw him in a more raw way, as a performer.
This project allowed me to understand the hard work and determination you need to have as a performer and also on a smaller scale as a local performer. Mei expressed his frustrations about Morgantown in general and how many venues around here aren’t very accepting of new musicians unless you’re “Huey Mack.”
Although Mei was in a wide music scene in Athens, Ohio while in his rap group The Iron MCs, he moved back here after he graduated from school there because his family is here. He is now realizing that he may have to stray even farther from Ohio and West Virginia to make it big in the music industry.
One thing this project really allowed me to realize was the broad and raw talent in Morgantown. I had the opportunity to watch a couple open mic-nights and listen to the musicians trying to break into the music industry just like Mei.
If I could go back, I would want to spend time with Mei while he was writing his music or even while he was in the studio. Even though I was able to learn some of his inspiration for his music, I didn’t get to fully understand the process it takes to make it. It is interesting to me how musicians can come up with their lyrics. Not to mention, for rappers there is a completely different style to their arrangements than in a normal song. They are given a beat and supposed to come up with lyrics right off the bat. I watched J’Mei on stage come up with multiple freestyles for many different beats and it was like watching, or listening to, art.
For our actual video, we focused on Mei’s career right now with his performances in Morgantown. For the print story, however, we wanted to focus on his background and how he got to this point in his music career. In all, I think we each contributed something unique to this piece and were able to show Josh Mei in a different light than what most would first assume.
The multimedia project can be found at: