Adnan Safadi didn't want to set expectations too high, but his goal was to have the music video shoot he was producing be the most fun project he and his friends had ever worked on. Turns out, it was.
This sheer enthusiasm is palpable on "The Dangle," a joyfully ridiculous music video that finds Safadi and friends dancing around various Los Angeles locations and Safadi rapping about having fun, wilding out "lookin' kinda dumb" and "gettin' hella juice." Released on August 19, "The Dangle" quickly racked up 74,000 views on YouTube, making it a surprise success for everyone involved in its creation.
Safadi, a Santa Monica-based musician with a theater degree from UC Santa Cruz, conceived of "The Dangle" six months back while dancing around his bedroom. "I'm turning red just thinking about it," he says with a laugh, "but I thought, 'I should make a fun rap song.'"
And so he wrote "The Dangle," the comedic hip-hop style of which is decidedly different from the ambient electronica he typically produces. "Hip hop was uncharted territory for me," he says. "It helped me let go of my inhibitions because I was embracing a genre where I didn't feel obligated to make good music. The whole project became about fun, rather then good or cool. It was really liberating."
The style fit perfectly with the ethos of Thomas Johnson, a Hawthorne-based dancer best known as Tommy the Clown. Johnson is credited as the creator of clowning/krumping, a dance phenomenon documented in David LaChapelle's 2005 film RIZE. "When I saw RIZE and thought about who would best represent 'The Dangle,' it was Tommy, this guy who was all about community, clowning, making people happy, spreading a positive message and creating a platform for kids to express themselves," Safadi says.
So Safadi tracked down Johnson and asked if he could be a spectator at a party Tommy and crew were dancing at. This meeting resulted in Johnson and ten of his dancers adding their flavor to "The Dangle" video. "It was really us being ourselves," Johnson says. "To me, the dangle is about being free, letting yourself go and having some fun, which is what we like doing."
And what exactly is The Dangle?
Well, "everyone's dangle is different," Safadi says. "You dangle how you dangle and add whatever flair you want. If you're having fun with your friends, that's what matters. It's a G-rated message from a G-rated song."
Shot on location at LACMA, in Koreatown and at Santa Monica's Roosevelt Elementary School, the video finds Adnan, Johnson and a crew of brightly dressed people gleefully dangling all over various parking lots, jungle gyms and the museum's Urban Light installation. Made for a few thousand dollars, the shoot didn't have lighting, catering or sound techs. It was shot and edited by a film crew called Digitali.
The video is three-plus minutes of clearly joyful self-expression by an eclectic gang of folks dancing along to Safadi rapping about how the dangle is not about "fancy cars or getting girls." The clip isn't sleek or sexy or particularly sophisticated, but it is one of the few hip-hop videos you could watch with your grandparents.
"With videos now, you think you need a fancy car full of women and drugs with people smoking and kickin' it," Johnson says. "This is different. There's a positive vibe to it."
And as for Safadi joining Johnson's crew? "What you see in that video," Safadi says with a laugh, "is the entire scope of my dancing ability."
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