African American filmmaker, producer and actor Nelson “Moses” Lassiter is disrupting rap’s culture by shedding light on hip-hop’s LGBTQ community with his latest series, “Single Record.”
The narrative addresses homophobia, diversity, inclusion and unconscious biases in the rap industry — and is paired with an original soundtrack which released this month.
Lassiter, producer of feature films “Life Coach” and “Innocent Flowers,” has turned his attention to “Single Record.”
The series, which has aired one season and takes a look at the hip hop community and the part of it that is rarely discussed: LGBTQ.
“I’ve always been inspired by the hip-hop community. I’m a huge fan of the culture – I live it,” Lassiter said. “I wanted to tackle one of the biggest issues I had with the community: homophobia.”- Filmmaker Nelson “Moses” Lassiter
“The genre is hypermasculine and has the tendency to demonize or bully those in the LGBTQ community,” Lassiter said. “I wanted to create a story that showed what would happen if a rapper that represents all of that hate and negativity became what he hated.”
The songs were written by Lassiter himself and drawn from personal experience and stories in his community. Everything in Single Record from the characters to the writing to the music all represent Lassiter in one way or another.
“The music is original and was written to make the universe we were building in the series more real,” Lassiter said. “There was a certain point of view I wanted to bring to it, so having the music written by a gay songwriter was key.”
Pulling from personal experience and stories, Lassiter was determined to create a narrative that hadn’t really been considered before. Oh, and he shot it in eight days.
“Instead of shooting it like a typical show (episode-by-episode), we block shot the series as if it were a movie. This meant we spent a lot of time doing costume and hair changes, but we saved time by not having to film per episode,” Lassiter said.
The show tells the story of Aaron Hunter (played by Lassiter), a pretentious rapper who is signed by a newly-independent manager who finds Hunter on the street trying to sell his CDs.
Down the line he meets songwriter Harmon Vegas, and the two men share a kiss that forces Hunter to choose between his image or his truth.
“The series is different from other LGBTQ shows because it’s not a coming out story or a show that reflects what’s popular in gay culture. It represents a harsh truth of self-hatred that can exist when we battle our own demons and has themes that can extend beyond the LGBTQ community,” Lassiter said.
Not only is “Single Record” an honest and courageous look at the LGBTQ community and the internal struggle that often accompanies being gay, but it has music that makes you want to get up and dance. “The official soundtrack just launched on Spotify and Apple Music, which is pretty exciting,” Lassiter said.
Given that the series is based off of Lassiter’s life, adding music felt like the perfect touch to immerse people into the series’ world and feel the feelings of the characters told from a unique perspective.
Above all, bringing “Single Record” to fruition was a cathartic act for Lassiter. “Aaron is important,” he said. “It was acting out and relieving personal experiences or stories I’ve heard from others in an inventive way. It allowed me to see the world through their eyes and for them to see it through mine.”