In a music video tribute to Kendrick Lamar, Compton’s hometown hero, members of the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra (SMYO) joined musical forces with multi-instrumentalist and composer Sly5thAve to perform selections from Lamar’s most critically acclaimed project, “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
Lamar was nominated for 11 Grammy awards, and SMYO’s music video was released Wednesday, February 10 on YouTube.
An inspiration to area at-risk youth, Lamar grew up in Compton amidst dangerous street activity, but seemed more influenced than harmed by it, recording his keen observations as lyrics to be communicated through his powerful musical style. His far-reaching musical success has served as motivation to many young musicians, including the members of SMYO, a tuition-free music education program supported through the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Clubs.
Influenced by Lamar’s evocative “Alright” music video and using 360° virtual video technology, producers Brandon Gerard and Ashley Shanté wanted to create a setting where the viewer could almost become a part of the orchestra.
This short clip marks the first collaboration with Los Angeles-based production companies, Arbor Films and Butcher Bird Studios, and provides a first look at an interactive television/social music project entitled “RE/CHORD,” debuting online in Spring 2016.
“We are excited to launch this video in the days leading up to the 58th Grammys on Feb 15. Kendrick is an artist who cares deeply about people and is involved with several youth/community organizations, so I wanted to involve young musicians from diverse LA backgrounds as much as possible,” said producer Brandon Gerard.
Gerard’s path intersected with that of Shab Fasa, founder of the SMYO, when he first contacted Sylvester Onyejiaka, better known as Sly5thAve after seeing some recent work he did with the Club Casa Chamber Orchestra for Lamar’s popular song, “BDKMV” on YouTube. Fasa had also recently contacted Sly5thAve for a position as music director for the SMYO so the timing was serendipitous for collaboration.
“Connecting with Sly and Brandon brought this project full circle,” said Fasa. “Kendrick Lamar’s music really resonates with the kids and their enthusiasm over Sly’s arrangement of Kendrick’s music shines through in their performance.”
The young members of SMYO’s youth chamber group were excited to perform the tribute to the Compton performer who has inspired their musical journey.
“I thought that Kendrick Lamar’s music is simple but fun to play and very interesting. The whole time was a blast for me,” said SMYO member Vincente Puga. “The whole experience was amazing and I had so much fun and wish I’ll do something with Kendrick Lamar’s music and another project with Sly in the future.”