Written by Snarley Brown
It always saddened me to see the negative connotations so oftenly associated with Hip Hop. The music industry hasn’t done much to help that notion either. Every song on the radio is about chilling poolside, high on Xanax, drinking codeine cough syrup, fucking your best friend’s girl, and shooting up the club. Needless to say, the Rick Springfield “Jesse’s Girl” format has taken a rather dark turn as of late. What’s so depressing about it to me is that hip hop is not just music to me. This lifestyle, once upon a time, saved my life. I battled a severe heroin addiction for years, resulting in me becoming homeless and basically unemployable. The entire time I was homeless I still managed to keep some music equipment and continued to write and perform around town. It had basically become my only way to make money. At some point though, enough was enough, the music had brought a new more positive group of friends into my life. My perspective of the world changed as a direct cause of the people I met through the art of hip hop. Whether we were doing a collaboration, I was making them a beat, or we shared a stage, it slowly enveloped itself positively around my life. I’m not the only person to be affected a similar way by this music. I several people personally who share a similar testimony, and being that I have this opportunity to share it through a public medium, I plan on taking full advantage of the situation. Hence, the birth of this series of profiles entitled “Hip Hop Saved my Life” came into fruition. Now that the intro is out of the way, let’s kick this off with the profile of the Crimeski.
Crimeski, born Dennis Krymski, is an Anchorage local photographer/videographer. He’s not only shot a video for basically every well-known emcee in town, but has also done work for a couple national hip hop acts. That list includes Post Malone, Joker the Bailbondsman, Gorilla Zoe, Rico Rossi, and Philthy Rich, Marty Obey, Baked Alaska
Crimeski is one of the most active Alaskan videographers, with a specialty directed towards shooting hip hop music videos.
It was about 2013 when I started noticing his watermark in the bottom corner of a lot of the videos from artists around town. I witnessed his workflow first hand during the shoot for Ben Swann’s “On my Way” video. I liked the openness of it; he wasn’t just sitting there barking orders from a director’s chair. He kept us on the move, which helped to maintain a much more organic feel to the project. I was surprised to find out during the filming of Ben’s project that Crimeski actually suffers from post-concussion syndrome, as well as a severe spinal injury. In his words:
“At the end of 2012 i found myself in a very bad situation, feeling trapped. If you’ve seen interstellar with Matthew McConaughey, at the end of the movie where he is in the Tesseract Scene stuck behind the bookshelf, you could kinda imagine what it felt like in a way. For 5 years I traveled around the states to Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and around the Anchorage area to find a cure to my problem. During the altercation (in which he sustained his injuries), I had a severe fall that impacted the lower part of my spine. The impact traveled to the top of my spine, jarring my nervous system. That progressed into debilitating headaches, chronic pain, vision problems, and fatigue, as well as all sorts of other symptoms that made life a lot more complicated than it should be.”
It surprised me, because even with such a severe injury, it didn’t seem to slow him down. As a matter of fact, on the set you could sense a vigor about him that seemed ever-sustaining. .
How, pre tell, did one sustain such a massive quake within their nervous system? Sadly, the story is no type of cinematic climax. It was a simple case of being in downtown Anchorage on the 4th Avenue strip one unfortunate weekend, where someone said something to someone else, with the end result being our friend finding himself in the wrong place at the very wrong time. The fact that 4th Avenue is just a long string of bars can often work to one’s disadvantage. Some nights it resembles that of a gauntlet, booby-trapped with drunken mischievery of an epic proportion. Sometimes you get caught up, and the shit hits the fan long before there’s any time to think. Despite what some may call a “handicap,” Crimeski finds a motivating stamina within his empire of musical visualizations. It has not only kept him going, but it’s helped his spirits remain high.
I decided to catch up with my old acquaintance, so I sent a message his way via Facebook. There was no hesitation in response, and we agreed to cruise around the city for a little Q&A.
What’s your setup look like?
My Main setup, here in Anchorage, consists of Panasonic Lumix Gh4 as my main camera, with Ronin Gimbal and Canon, Sigma, lens. But depending on people’s budgets, I do rent cameras for higher budgets. Looking to invest in a Red cinema camera in the future.
What’s an artist looking at, let’s just say a ballpark figure of what one would expect to spend for your quality?
I always say you get what you pay for. If you want some professional quality, don’t come to me with a iPhone camera budget. My prices start from $700-$3,000 — all depends on what you’re looking for and type of camera and equipment we use for your project.
Who are your influences?
Eif Rivera and Vasco Vea. Eif Rivera is a go-to music video director and movie maker in the industry for top artists. Give him a search and observe how professional his final project is. Vasco Vea is a longtime Anchorage Alaska mix media designer; does all the videos for Bad Agenda Record Label.
Eif Rivera is the director that filmed and edited a lot of 50 cents early music videos, he’s one of the biggest directors in the industry right now. When I watch his visuals I observe his transitions,color grading, footage cuts, and the way he directs his overall projects. As for Vasco Vea I was watching all his music videos in Anchorage, Alaska before I even started FIlming my own music videos. He knows how to really put together a professional-looking project. I got to film some Drone footage for him on one of his sets earlier this year, while he was shooting a music video for artist’s Duckman of BagBoy Nation and Artist Philthy Rich from SCMMLLC.
How did you link up with Post Malone?
I was in California For Stem Cell Treatment for my neck and I stayed at Baked Alaska’s house for like a month. We were working doing Visuals and photography, Baked Alaska’s got a lot of connections in California so we went to this big ass house for a house party and when we got there they were filming a music video for Post Malone already so we just chilled with everyone that night, the next night we got a call from one of Bake’s Friends that used to work with him at capitol Records and he asked if I was still in California and I was so that’s how we got that call to film.
Anything big on the horizon?
I’m always thinking about my next move my mind doesn’t stop, as of right now i’ll be dropping my new line of Crimeski designer shades. Check them out on www.crimeski.com But future plans I definitely want to branch out to start filming a lot of visuals in California and other states I’ve kinda just been stuck cuz of my health, but after this chapter in my life I definitely will start traveling.
Hypothetically, we go in a time machine. You travel back before your injury to try and warn your former self. What would you say?
I would’ve told myself to just walk away and avoid the situation like my friend Jeremiah Ridgeway told me to. But I was in a really bad head space and this dude was getting on my nerves so I made a bad decision. But I definitely learned a lot about human anatomy and health care, I did miss out on a lot of stuff that I would have loved to do over the last five years, but this solitude also gave me a lot of time to myself to plan and build while gaining wisdom. So it’s always You either win or you learn. Before i forget go check out my homie Jeremiah’s new article he wrote about a independent record label (Harlem Made) here in Anchorage its on my website under the news tab.