I often state that the the recent uptick in Portland rap success has been largely due the emergence of localized hip-hop infrastructure. Over the last few years few improvements have outpaced the growth of local videographers, and this is huge because the right video can take a rapper from the street corner to a national stage.
Sam Lingle has been around for a while now – I first recall seeing his name associated with the Chill Crew release, Peter Pan – but his work truly caught my attention when he captured Hempstalk 2013. A Twitter follow later, I quickly realized that Sam is not the type to bite his tongue, and he is certainly not here to make friends. However, he is here to network, work on his craft, make dope visuals, and see the NW scene grow.
Over time, WOHM has come to feature an array of work by the talented film director who always has something to say. Unknown by some and misunderstood by others, we took the time to sit down and give Sam a platform to speak his mind about music, videography, and the slippery politics of Portland rap. I think you’ll enjoy this.
Mac: For so long you’ve been the man behind the scenes… Introduce us to Sam J. Lingle.
Sam: First let me say thank you for supporting so many of my videos. I really appreciate that. I was born and raised in North Portland. Free lunch tickets, no bus pass.
I recall you being a rather active member of TNO Records, but it’s been quiet lately. You still with the team?
I’m no longer TNO’s Media Director. As their M.D., I created everything from the company logo to the music videos. I was a costly employee, and when the label wasn’t producing enough music to necessitate me being there full time we made the obvious decision. I don’t hear much from them as a label anymore but I still have a deep respect for those guys. That was definitely a milestone in my career.
You’ve shot a number of very well renowned Portland music videos for a variety of artists. Do you have a favorite, and why?
Thank you. I try to make videos that people notice but “very well renowned” is honestly an incredible thing to hear someone say. Jansport takes place in my old neighborhood and I got to film St. Johns as I knew it. Mic Capes is a beast and that video was really important to both of us. It was a long time in the making but our schedules finally aligned and he became one of my favorite clients. I don’t think there’s a doubt in anyones mind that Mic’s gonna make it. I wish he had more media coverage. It’s a shame we live in a world where artists have to pay for publicity. Some rich kid can get his shitty songs heard by the whole city before a working class artist can get a drink ticket for a live set. I made Mic’s video with that in mind.
You recently shot a music video for controversial Portland artist Tabloid’s diss on Cool Nutz, Push, which is still under wraps. I understand this hurt some feelings. What inspired you to work with him on this project in particular?
Tabloid is an interesting artist to me because like all of my favorite rappers, he’s a story teller. His music has something to say and he delivers it extremely well. When it comes to PUSH, he’s actually saying on a record what I’ve heard a lot of people say in person. I have my own feelings about the current state of the Portland Hip Hop market but I personally can’t say it’s any one person’s fault. I’m not the one who writes the songs and if every director had to align his or her self with the content of the song they were making a video for I think we’d have very different landscape of the art form.
I will say this though, if Tabloid believes that someone is not only disrespecting him but other artists as well and he speaks on it why is he viewed as a trouble maker? Even if he isn’t 100% right he’s sticking his neck out and saying “Look into this issue”. I thought that was a very hip hop thing to do and that’s why I chose to make a video for him.
Do you feel like the decision has impacted your ability to do business in this town?
No, but that would be a perfect illustration of Tabloid’s point. I don’t think that any job or client will ever overshadow my abilities as a director or my value as a creative person. I think my criticisms of certain peoples’ music and certain peoples’ business practices have done more damage to my client list than the Push video.
Speaking of… In your own right, you’ve been a rather vocal critic of TxE, and Tope in particular, for quite some time now. What’s the beef?
No beef at all! I have a critical ear from being a musician for the last decade and I can’t just turn it off. If I give anyone a negative album/track review it’s never personal. I give praise where praise is due and everyone knows that. TxE and Tope have a lot going for them and they are really talented guys but that shouldn’t shield them from a raw critique. I know that poking fun at someone’s art can feel like a personal attack but my criticisms are with the music. There’s never been a time that I’ve felt any type of way at all towards those individuals. “Supportland” is a concept that is blurring the line between quality control and hate.
This tope album is mediocre. Digital rolling tray. Can’t sleep on it because it’s already fast asleep. The gimmicky title is insulting.
— Sam Lingle (@SamJLingle) June 18, 2014
Any advice for folks with aspirations in videography?
In a few years, someone will win an oscar for a movie they made entirely on their phone. Pretty soon a lot of videographers will be out of work and the only thing keeping us in the game will be our ideas. Study the art form and the landscape of the business you are entering. Without studying amazing directors like Beejan, V1, Artistic Outlet, and so many others I wouldn’t have had a standard to match. After that it’s just about improving where you can and not being afraid to take risks.
Shout out to Scrips, Casey Keele, Jake Deane, Sean Biggers, Chris Hart, and my family for the support. Here’s a list of Portland videos that inspire me.
T. Soprano – Corner Boi – Dir. We Are One Productions
Michele Wylen – Holla If U Wanna ft. Tre Redeau – Dir. Travis Becker
Illmaculate – Walk On Water – Dir. Artistic Outlet
Tre Redeau – Rounds – Dir. Soundlapse
Cool Nutz – Crushed – Dir. Connor Limbocker
The Resistance – Rise & Grind – Dir. Matt Robertson
Gem Staks – Koolin – Dir. Martin Van London