“I’m done with this. I’m tired of running, I’m not running away anymore… I’m done with it and I’m through running away from God. I’m going to run to him, instead.”
This idea is at the heart of “I’m Thru’ Runnin’,” a new song from local rapper Bobby Wade. The accompanying music video was produced by OKWU’s Advanced Video Production Class, led by Professor Evan Hewitt, and will premiere at the department’s Film and Design Showcase on April 30.
OKWU’s partnership with Wade was a natural one, as he’s already been a pivotal piece of various community events sponsored by the university. Last year’s Freedom Fire series is probably the most visible of these events—Wade was a headline performer at the concert, held at Bartlesville’s Unity Square, and used the opportunity to showcase his music and tell his amazing testimony.
“There are people who won’t go to church or won’t hear that, but maybe they’ll hear and get a seed planted from my music because that’s the thing they’re drawn to.”
“I Had the Foundation”
Wade’s story is a journey of pain, addiction, and ultimately redemption, and it started when he was a child growing up in Tulsa.
“I had an upbringing in the church. But as we know there’s a difference between having head knowledge of who God is and having an actual relationship with Him,” he said. “I got lost somewhere in my teen years and got addicted to partying. I was drinking, I was addicted to prescription pills, and I was playing basketball at the same time, being recruited by colleges.”
By this point, he had moved to Nowata, and started finding himself drawn into darker crowds. “I ended up joining a gang, and kind of started being motivated by music, particularly rap music… and I started being drawn to that, and that life, and it ended up leading me to ruining my basketball career. I ended up in prison.”
While he was incarcerated, Wade felt the Lord’s tug on his heart, and he harkened back to his background in church. “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they’re older they won’t depart from it,” he said. “I had the foundation.”
It was his third time being arrested, and Wade was tired of the trajectory his life was traveling down.
“I knew that something had to change,” he said. “I hit rock bottom, and I knew that I couldn’t continue in that life. It didn’t happen overnight, but I cried out to the Lord and accepted Him into my heart, in my lowest point of all, and I began to try my best to walk it out.”
When he got out of prison, Wade dedicated his life to learning all he could about his new faith, getting a master’s degree in theology and figuring out what his life as a Christian would look like. He’d dabbled in rap before he was saved, but initially wanted no part of it now that he was a Christian.
“When I felt the call of the Lord to do Christian rap and tell my story, I actually ran from it for about four or five years,” he said. “I thought there was no way I’m supposed to be rapping. I’ve already tried this, and it didn’t work.”
Eventually, though, he decided to give it a shot, aiming his music at the people the church often can’t reach. “There are people who won’t go to church or won’t hear that, but maybe they’ll hear and get a seed planted from my music because that’s the thing they’re drawn to,” he said.
“I’m Thru’ Runnin’” is a powerful example of this kind of communication, detailing Wade’s thoughts through his rock-bottom conversion experience.
“You’re pushed to be better, pushed to step it up each and every day to be the best you can be to develop that passion into something that you’re proud of.”
A New Challenge
Wade’s partnership with OKWU’s Advanced Video Production class was perfect for both sides— it gave him an opportunity to have his first music video made, and it gave the students in the class a chance to take on a new medium. Most of the students hadn’t worked on many music videos, so the opportunity to work with a client from concept to execution was a priceless one.
For Richard Perkins, a sophomore Digital Cinema major in the class, the project was a way to represent a unique viewpoint and powerful message.
“I love the ability that film has to take you into another world,” he said. “Not just as an escape. It can bring you into somebody else’s world so that you can understand what they’re going through.”
Sarah Davis is another student involved in the project. As a double major—Graphic Design and Strategy and Digital Media Marketing, with a minor in Digital Cinema—she was most excited by the chance to approach a video concept directly with a client.
“It’s just been a really awesome experience working at a professional level for a client with this big of a project,” she said. “Each of us has taken turns directing parts of the video and storyboarding, and coming up with concepts to pitch to him. He’s been awesome to have, enthusiastic.”
To accommodate the class schedule, as well as Wade’s, the filming was done in a short amount of time. “We shot the entire music video in about nine hours, which is pretty incredible to get enough footage for all of that,” Perkins said. “Everybody kind of had their chance to film something that was within their vision and be able to communicate that to Bobby and to the cinematographer and to the other students who are helping with the other things.”
For Felix Aranda, a sophomore Digital Cinema and Graphic Design major, the best part of the process was getting familiar with the practical aspects of the creative process. “Personally I love doing music videos. That’s what I actually want to do,” he said. “[But] I think just getting to get familiar with the production process and see how to interact with talent [was very cool].”
Both Perkins and Davis are quick to point out that opportunities like these are what makes OKWU’s film program special.
“With any film program, you will get out what you put into it,” Perkins said. “I think the benefit of a smaller class and a smaller school is that you can get more opportunities to put more into it, and get more out of it.”
For Davis, it’s just an example of the belief that the professors have in the students.
“Out of any school that you’re ever going to go to, OKWU is going to be the one that believes in you,” she said. “No matter what, no matter the struggles that you come from, the life that you are dealing with outside of [class], the communication and the passion that the professors have here, the passion surrounds you… You’re pushed to be better, pushed to step it up each and every day to be the best you can be to develop that passion into something that you’re proud of and enhance your skillset. And you’re excited each and every day that you wake up to improve yourself, one day at a time.”
Watch the finished I’m Thru’ Runnin’ video now!