Cypriot rapper, producer and former So Solid crew member A.M. SNiPER is one of the grime movement’s most authoritative and established voices. Despite that, and the growing popularity of grime music globally, he has yet debut any of his body of work in the United States, until now.
A.M. SNiPER recently teamed up with West Coast rapper The Game and Dre3000 of Cool & Dre to introduce the single “Foreign Dreams” to stateside listeners. The project also saw the artist co-producing and co-directing the music video alongside INKK. Set in rural Nigeria, the team traveled over 700 miles outside of Lagos to get the footage they needed. Ahead of the debut, we caught up with SNiPER to learn more about his inspiration and what the “Foreign Dream” means in today’s times.
What took you to Nigeria?
One day I was brainstorming with the team about visuals and my music, and I told them my desire to have at least one visual of each body of work dedicated to being purely artistic. I wanted A.M. SNiPER to be the one who actually aims the shot as opposed to being in the shot. During the early days of my career we shot a low budget visual called “DISTORTED.” Although I was still in the video I actually never performed in it, so that encouraged and inspired me to have more cinematic visuals later on down the line.
I know my region is surrounded by many wonders and historical elements that define human culture. This includes unique societies, different ways of thinking, and interesting traditions that deserve to see the light of day and bypass current trends and cliches.
In my opinion some of the artists that have such visuals are Skrillex and MIA. We reached out to people they’ve worked with, exchanged ideas, looked into different cultures and places, and when the director hit us up with this specific story in Nigeria it was perfect for the record and the vision.
Tell me about the process of conceptualizing the video…
“Foreign Dreams” felt like the perfect track to execute my cinematic vision. People love hip-hop; they are discovering and starting to love grime, and even though a lot of people don’t speak or understand the language, they get the flow and the rhythm. The director called the song an artistic ego trip. He thought of the foreign places he would like to visit, and I in turn felt that being so “foreign” myself everyone is entitled to a shot and a chance to rise no matter where they come from.
It’s exciting to see how the visuals and lyrics came together in such a surreal way. For example, “I pull up like a don ain’t shit you can tell me” is juxtaposed with the tribe marching into the city center. Words like “border,” “hybrid” and “importing” match with a hunt in the jungle. I’m no one’s saviour and I’m not a saint. We all like the fine things in life, especially in this consumer-driven society, but seeing that tribe crossing the bridge from the jungle into the city and still staying true to their roots signifies what hip-hop stands for as a global culture; it’s a language for all people from different walks of life.
How did you find out about the tribe you worked with?
This specific group is a small sect within the Yoruba. As I mentioned earlier, we were very aware of what we were looking for, but this specific tribe was photographed by South African photographer Pieter Hugo. He published a book that contained pictures of men living with Hyenas in Lagos that one of the producers of the video happened to own. He sent me a picture and said, “What do you think of this image?” I said, “we got the video!”
There was a concern that filming might violate certain traditions. What specific traditions were they worried about?
They weren’t actually concerned with any violations, they just wanted to make sure everything was fair for both sides. We can’t wait to hear their feedback, although it might take a while since they don’t use the Internet. They knew exactly what the vibe was, and all creative ideas were shared and checked with them.
What were some of the biggest challenges of the filming process?
Every single frame was a f**king challenge! There was no time for setting up the shots so it was a very guerrilla-style. There was also a lot of improvising: we used most of the shots we filmed because didn’t have the privilege of having a lot of footage to edit. The INKKK team had already worked in a lot of foreign countries so they knew how to best handle the situation.
The hardest part was for the production team was not being allowed to move about without military security. One of the producers found himself in a police car going in reverse on a highway with a cop pointing his AK-47 to other cars to keep people away…
What do you want this video to convey?
I don’t consider this a music video, but more of a work of art. It’s like I’m connoisseur of hip-hop and I put together a collaboration with myself, Cool & Dre – who are with me right now and nominated for three Grammys – and The Game with a visual that pushes art beyond the daily expectations. So I’m sharing this “collection” of ours with the world. I even felt an interview about this project would not be doing the project any justice, I’m not looking for the traditional exposure, I’m not around the industry as much, I’m on my Bob Marley vibe, on an island making music, and I’m happy to just do that, like Pharell’s kicks say, we are one human race, and I’m really inspired and proud of this work of art and I can’t for the world to see it!
What does the “Foreign Dream” signify to you?
For all your females readers…I AM THE FOREIGN DREAM! (haha) Any dream starts with the first step and then the second step, and then you walk the dream, and then you run your dream, and finally you live your dream.
Nobody saw it coming from my world, but yet again you never do get to see the sniper before the hit. My vision goes beyond 300m, I can see miles ahead and that’s a dream. I believe if someone commits to what they love and they keep working at it, no matter how “foreign” or far the dream appears to be, if they keep going they will eventually get there. There’s no rush, even if it takes a lifetime
I’m bringing a DNA that does not exist in the game. I would not call it a U.S. scene but a global scene now, as people from everywhere are plugged into it. I represent a fusion of cultures across the Mediterranean Sea all the way to the United Kingdom.
For more exclusive music premieres check out the Atlanta musician, Phay, who was putting out good vibes on inauguration day.