THE YOUTUBE VIDEO
Mark McGrath is the Councilman for Troy's 2nd Election District. The 2nd includes an area commonly referred to as North Central, probably because it sounds scary. North Central is north of Hoosick Street, as is Lansingburgh, an area we will now call North of Hoosick or NoHo.
Back in January, someone e-mailed McGrath a rap video entitled "Problems." The video was shot in North Central by All.4.1 and features a group called Hood Gentlemenz. We had not viewed the video until Jacon's recent ruling in the Jones case . Here it is.
After watching the video we wondered what generated all the controversy. We'll go out on a limb and guess that most of our readers, like us, are not rap aficionados, although we may have detected a Louie Prima influence. However, that's not the point. Rap isn't marketed to the vast majority of people who last watched a music video when the Buggles announced that Video Killed the Radio Star.
So, what's the problem? Frankly, our biggest problem was the clothing. And the jiggling asses. Not that we're against jiggling asses, especially when we have a fresh stack of crisp singles. Too jiggly can be a turn-off.
We suppose it's the pistol and the police vehicles. Lets start there. It's likely that the video was filmed over the course of a few days. There are no police vehicles in the scenes where we see the pistol. What's wrong with the police being present when part of the video was shot? Nothing. In fact, it happens all the time when a high-end movie is shot.
As for the pistol brandished by the young gentleman? Who knows if it's even real? Maybe.....maybe not.
So, someone filmed a video on the mean streets of NoHo. The only thing we can think of is that they did not obtain a permit to film on the street.
It's hard to see the relevance of the video but we'll let McGrath tell you in his own words:
McGrath, who represents portions of Troy's North Central district where the arrests were made, said when he first started watching the video, he thought it was well produced and entertaining - until he saw them flashing the handguns.
"I obviously recognized the geography, I grew up down there, and I was kind of laughing at the video until I saw the handgun and said 'hold on a minute. We can't have this going on,'" McGrath said, and he alerted the mayor. He said the brazenness of the characters in the video do capture some of what the drug trade has done to portions of North Central in real life. "They are so brazen about it.
They are doing these things right in front of you," he said of parts of his district. "We are patting ourselves on the back, but the sad part is there will be another group up there doing it next week. When there is a demand it will always be there." - The Record January 12, 2007
McGrath e-mailed the video to Mayor Tutunjian. Tutunjian, in turn, informed Chief of Police, Nicholas Kaiser.
Based on his comments, we can only surmise that McGrath believed that what was shot on video was more documentary than a rap video. It makes you wonder if he would have sent a copy of Serpico to the New York Police Department in order to stop police corruption.
The producers of the video are a bit more grounded than our politicians:
The team of film producers who put together the hip hop video that led to 11 arrests and the shuttering of a convenience store said the piece does not glorify gangs, violence or anything else associated with inner city neighborhoods. Rather, they said, the video is, as its title "Problems" implies, about problems facing people who live in those neighborhoods. - The Record January 13, 2007
The press was led to believe that there was a causal connection between the video and the eleven arrests. The truth of the matter is that the video led to no arrests. We'll discuss that in Part Two.