What do the Mafia, early nineties hip-hop artists and water have in common?
Or at least that was the mindset going into the writing process for the award-winning Water Rocks! music video The Power of Water.
Writer, musician and rapper Todd Stevens explained, “I grew up on late eighties and early nineties hip-hop or rap. Back then it was all about who’s a better rapper. It was all about macho pride and very individualistic. So, as far as the concept of this song, I wanted water to be seen as too cool. Something that demands respect, and is powerful, almost like the Mafia.”
When listening to The Power of Water, the similarities to the early nineties hip-hop are clear.
“I grew up listening to rap icons like Run DMC and LL Cool J. Back then it was all about the beats and the lyrics. Rap was so much more simplistic than it is today,” said Stevens. “I tried to incorporate that simplicity into this song, and to be honest, I was needing to come up with something quick.”
Whether it was style or time constraints, the writing process remained very deliberate.
“Really the song only has a couple of parts to it,” Stevens explained. “I started with a basic beat. I chose a BPM (beat per minute) that felt good to me. From there I mostly focused on the bass part, which has a cool, spacey vibe to it.”
Like most hip-hop music, the lyrics are what separate the good from the bad.
“My writing process usually starts with a list of key points I need to make. In this case it was hydroelectricity, erosion and irrigation. So I take this information and make it rhyme.”
Hydroelectric power from water that falls
More power than your fortune teller’s crystal ball
Hydropower’s energy that’s keepin’ it real
For irrigation, dock cranes, textile, and saw mills
The video was filmed in Wapsipinicon State Park in Anamosa and Matsell Bridge Park near Viola. Both parks are located along the Wapsipinicon River. Filmmaker Ken Kemper explained that his focus was to keep the video fun, scenic and fast-paced.
“We all had a fun day. We came into it with a loose feel so we could be flexible with weather and lighting conditions. We filmed in many locations within each park, using scenic bluffs, stone bridges, beaches and small feeder creeks as our backdrops. We changed the color of shirts quite often to keep a variety going.”
Kemper added, “As a rural land owner I can fully appreciate the importance of this message the urgent need for it to be delivered to our youth. Water is our most valuable resource and Water Rocks! is a great way to get the word out. It was an honor to work on this project.”
Whether it is appreciation or respect, The Power of Water will demand a reaction from each one of us. Take these lines from the chorus.
Water, water is good for health!
Don’t disrespect, she’ll put you on the shelf.
With water, you gotta proceed with caution.
And make sure all the water is clean that you washed in.
Not exactly as threatening as the Mafia, but you get the point.
The Power of Water won an Iowa Motion Picture Association Award for Live Action Entertainment - Short Form this year, so go check it out if you know what’s good for you!
Water Rocks! is a unique, award-winning statewide youth water education program that fosters the interplay of knowledge, caring and engagement among Iowa’s youth. Visit the Water Rocks! website to learn more and to watch the video: www.waterrocks.org. Follow Water Rocks! on Facebook and Twitter.
Partners of Water Rocks! are Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA Section 319), Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Water Center and Iowa Learning Farms.