Eric Biddines may not be a household name yet, but with a deep Southern sound that’s at times as soulful as it is fervent — and an introspective nature that allows him to expertly use a cup of coffee as a metaphor for the daily grind — there’s something special about this South Florida emcee that makes us think we’ll all be talking about him a lot more often in the near future.
Today, Biddines is exclusively dropping his video for “Railroad Down/Unfinished” on HipHopDX. Off his 2013 LP Planetcoffeebean 2, and directed by longtime friend Ryan Snyder (the unsung hero behind videos for Maybach Music Group and Dre Films, among others), the video for “Railroad Down/Unfinished” is deep, to say the least. Set on a Southern plantation during the slavery era, we watch as Biddines tries to break free from the confines of slave life — being pursued, chained, and punished by his master for doing so. While both the video and the song are heavy, Snyder tells us working with Biddines is all about the abtstract. “You can be way more creative with him,” Snyder says. “It’s really not about clubs and girls and that kind of stuff. We just come up with ideas and they are completely off the wall, but it works for him. I actually feel more comfortable doing stuff like that because it’s not just the same thing all the time.”
We got a chance to talk with Biddines about the concept behind the video for “Railroad Down/Unfinished.” Check out what Biddines had to say.
HipHopDX: Let’s start off with the concept of the video and the slavery setting. Was that the first decision you had when making a video for this song?
Eric Biddines: Oh yeah. It started when I had produced the song; I wanted to make a beat that sounds like it was being created live. Like, whatever was going on in the surroundings also went on in the music. So you could kind of hear the steps and the crickets or whatever the case may be. I needed to pick a setting and place that [had] those same things, and I was like, “Oh man, in slavery times they would do that.” From there I wanted to be able to paint that picture. I was the one who came up with the idea that it needed to be real visual. So when I came up with that storyline, I was like, “Alright this is where the setting of this idea is going to take place.” And then I came up with the music from there.
DX: The video description mentions that this is a metaphor for your personal struggles within the music industry. Can you expand on that a little?
Eric Biddines: Well in some ways you feel a slave to the format. In the time that I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen so many restrictions like, “This is how it’s going to be. It’s not going to change. This is how it’s got to be done,” and I’m saying, “What can I do to break the mold? It can’t be what everybody is telling me it’s supposed to be.” And that’s where I took over. There can be a new way, I want to bring something new to this whole community. I feel like I have a voice. There’s a void in what’s going on and I can be the voice for that.
So it’s like, that slave, that’s really me. In that refuge, that’s me at the same time, breaking down these barriers, going against the rules. You feel like there’s no hope for the lane you’ve been building. Believe it or not, as awesome as I am, I’ve been shut down in areas that you wouldn’t think of, and that frustration — the same frustrations a slave had — it’s just it can’t be what everybody is telling me it’s gonna be. It gotta be more. So it’s supposed to be super inspiring in that sense, but a little exaggerated because it’s slavery with the music [industry].
DX: I guess that would be kind of laying the railroads down to a more free path…
Eric Biddines: The tracks, the foundation. I could bring metaphors for days.
DX: Let’s jump into some of the specific symbols in the video. There’s the scene of you running from the slave master, and then also the noose. How do those heavy images play out within the narrative of the song and the video?
Eric Biddines: Well, that running scene is basically that point in your life where you actually make that decision to go for it. Everything before that, which there isn’t much of in the video, is just thinking — that’s the idea of the song — but right at that point where he’s breaking free of the chains, he’s making his transition in life that, “This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to start running and there’s no turning back. I’m going to make it out, or I’m going to get caught. But either way I’m gonna go with the sacrifices. I’m accepting it.” It ain’t always gonna end the way you want, but the best thing you got out of it is you ran, you tried.
Then we have noose, of course. I like to think that with it just dangling there, you don’t really see it being used. So for me it was a symbol of knowing it can end terribly. That definitely was an emotional piece that kind of put a few pins under the heels of your feet to let you know, alright, it’s serious. Like, you gotta run. You see that image and you want to make that decision to commit by any means necessary, even if you end up dying doing so.
DX: All of your videos are very visual, with a lot of creativity and artistry put behind them. How does this one differ from some of the others?
Eric Biddines: I think with this one we took the biggest risk. Just being brave, taking that leap of faith, and having the team get behind it. That’s probably the biggest — outside of finishing it — that’s the biggest [difference]. You know, we’re selling the characters in it too. It has so many characters, so that was fun. And you know, I got my acting debut on in it. I did all my own stunts. I fell in the sand, in the dirt, and it hurt!