When you go on a trip with family and friends, how do you make the most of it? How do you make it easier for people to take their mind off the stresses of “real life” back home? What do you do to bond? How do you spice things up? And how do you preserve your memories?
The standard approaches are to play some games, drink some drinks, do some activities, and take a ton of photos that maybe a go-getter in your group will collect into an album.
But let me suggest a wildcard—a fun idea that meets all the above goals and that my family, despite its initial absurdity, embraced. (Twice!)
Capture The Vibes
Last weekend, Thanksgiving here in Canada, we joined my wife Kim’s family for a reunion at a retreat outside Sooke, B.C.
Before telling you the unconventional, memorable, collaborative, and spicy thing we did, let me tell you a few things about our crew:
- Kim’s family is fun and easygoing, but not unusually unconventional or creative.
- Other than Kim’s mom, who plays piano and sings choir, none of us is in any way musical.
- Five of the thirteen of us are boys aged five or under, so rambunctiousness and chaos reigned from about 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. We had precious little “chill” time.
Even so, we managed to pull together…
…a bangin’ family rap video!
Sooke Ones, Part II:
My Unforgettable First Time
The spark that led Kim and I to become rap video producers came back in 2017. My mom’s wealthy cousin gave her the keys to his mansion (and year-round staff!) in Phuket, Thailand, to celebrate her 60th birthday in style. The place was so ostentatiously luxurious that when my brother, his girlfriend, Kim, and I rolled our bags in, one of us exclaimed, “This place is straight out of a rap video.”
CLICK, went my silly little brain. A rap video! Deep inside, I’d dreamed of being a rapper. What if we gave it a shot?
None of us had ever composed a song of any sort before. None of us had edited a video, either. But there’s a first for everything, right?
So we flew by the seat of our baggy pants. For extra difficulty, we did it all behind my parents’ backs to surprise my mom. And we made it happen! We had a blast creating it. My mom loved it. And it’s been a fantastic time capsule—better than any photo album.
Six-and-a-half years later, we still watch the Khop Kun Krap Birthday Rap from time to time, including about two weeks ago, when it came up while my cousin (and mom’s nephew) was over for dinner. We proudly laughed along with him at our amateur creation. Then Kim and I thought, “Why haven’t we done this more often?”
So we got back on the mic in Sooke, bringing the Roberts clan aboard.
I can’t speak for the others, but making the video completely distracted me from my “real life” worries. What I do know for sure is that everyone had fun making it. And no doubt, we’ll fondly watch Sooke Ones, Part II for years to come.
I also know I won’t be waiting six years before making the next family rap video to commemorate a special occasion.
Consider doing the same?
Family Rap Videos Made Easy(-er)
I’d estimate it took me 10 hours in total to put together the video.
Yes, I now have the advantage of the video-making skills I learned from my un-illustrious YouTube endeavors between 2020 and 2022. But that wasn’t the case for our first video in Thailand, so you can do it, too.
Follow these steps.
All you need is:
- A phone with a decent camera.
- A computer with basic video editing software. (I used iMovie.)
- Willing participants.
- Pick a beat. Check out the YouTube Audio Library for copyright free tracks.
- Create a chorus. Make it about the theme of your trip, like we did for Thailand (my mom’s 60th) and Sooke (the second straight year of the Roberts going there).
- Compose lyrics. Use ChatGPT! Give it a bunch of context and it will do an unbelievably good job. You can even ask it to mimic your favorite rapper’s style. For the Sooke video, Kim and I wrote our own raps, then used ChatGPT to draft lyrics for the others, which they then tweaked to their liking.
- Record the raps. Play the beat on headphones from your phone while recording the rapping on your computer (or a separate phone). This creates “clean” acapella audio. Record in the middle of a big room or in a quiet outdoor space to minimize echo.
- Edit the song. Consolidate the raps and the chorus over the beat. Use iMovie or whatever simple movie editing software comes with your computer. If you want to make the audio extra clean and balanced, use Auphonic. It’s free, quick, and easy.
- Film. Play the song out loud while filming each other rapping their verses. Keep clips short to make it easy to remember the lyrics. Use various angles, distances from the camera, and locations. The extra cuts also make the video more exciting to watch.
- Edit. Match the video clips you filmed with the song. It’s not so hard—all you have to do is ensure the audio from the song (Step 5) and the video clips (Step 6) overlap. Then mute the video clips.
- Publish. Post it on YouTube for free storage.
- Cherish! I guarantee your rap video will earn you an anti-regret.
Your Turn on the Mic
What do you think of Sook Ones, Part II? And what about the idea of making a rap video?
Questions about making your own?
Do you have any unique ways of recording/celebrating get-togethers?
Please let me know with a comment below, yo.
Keep doing exciting things,
Chris, aka Zagmaster C
PS – Rather “relax” on your holiday? Listen to The Science of Recharging on Weekends and Vacations from Adam Grant’s WorkLife podcast.
PPS – If you’d rather read a book or listen to podcasts, consider listening to my appearance on the Still Small podcast, where I discuss with the host, Kendall, whether consuming content (like podcasts and books) is a waste of time. We also get into my previously undiscussed background as a swimmer, if it’s possible for Kendall to care as little as I do about other people’s opinions, and more fun stuff.
PPPS – If you’re a fan of my raps, here’s a bonus third. I created it with Kim and a friend who was visiting from New York to commemorate my favorite nacho place in the world, The Foundation (R.I.P.).
About the author
I'm Chris. Canadian, husband, dad, writer, investor, athlete, and obsessed explorer of the secrets to living a never-boring, always improving, unfollowable life story.