Last week, a new Public Enemy video hit the Internet: an uplifting tune called "Everything," with a sweet, Motown-style riff behind it and a sing-songy delivery by Chuck D. The video begins with — hey, is that Justin Strong, from Shadow Lounge?! Wait, that second guy ... that's Davon Magwood, the Pittsburgh comedian, isn't it?
How did all of Pittsburgh end up in a Public Enemy video?
It turns out it was the work of a married couple from Tarentum.
David and Maura Snyder, along with David's cousin, John Delserone, run HWIC Filmworks, a film-production company that's made feature films and commercial videos, and serves as the official video crew for Chuck D's SLAMjamz Records label.
David first got in touch with Chuck D randomly in the late '90s. "I was always a huge P.E. fan, and I sent him an email once on the off chance he'd read it — they were leaving Def Jam at the time, and were looking at their options — and he emailed me back, which I didn't expect!"
From there, the two kept in touch — collaborating in the long-distance group The Impossebulls, and eventually forming a partnership in which David would direct videos for SLAMjamz and Public Enemy. He's also done remixes and produced tracks for Public Enemy. Maura — who works a day job in mental health and previously had no experience in video — has become a producer for HWIC.
Some jobs are bigger than others — when Public Enemy was making videos for some older songs that had never gotten the treatment, for example. ("I was like, ‘You want me to make a video for "Welcome to the Terrordome?"'" David recalls with a laugh.)
The idea behind the new video is to feature regular people — the song is an anthem about being proud regardless of one's material possessions — and it features Pittsburghers who the Snyders know, from Strong and Magwood to Most-Wanted Fine Art Gallery's Jason Sauer and Nina Gibbs (and son Rowdy), and Kahmeela Adams, of the 48 Hour Film Project, which HWIC won in 2011. It's been having an effect on the folks who appear, too.
"I got a text from one of the actresses," says Maura. "She said she walked into her bank and the people there were like, ‘Didn't we just see you in that Public Enemy video?'"