Meet the King of YouTube’s Battle-Rap Videos
Drone footage, outraged neighbors, and gunshots on set – it’s all another day at work for this self-taught 28-year-old filmmaker.
Photos by Lee Grubb | Edited by Michael Stahl
Under glowing street lights in a parking lot in the south London neighborhood of Brixton, the eponymous creator of PacmanTV – a YouTube channel featuring music videos of the city’s emerging rap artists – gets to work. With one hand on his camera lens and the other clamping his cellphone to his ear, the 24-year-old filmmaker barks orders at a rapper twice his size who’s late to the set. Because Pacman’s videos score hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of views, he can get away with being a little bossy.
“I’ve seen people get shot, I’ve seen fights and arrests,” says Pacman, who, given that he works with many gang-affiliated rappers, wishes to go by only his nom de guerre. “It’s stuff an ordinary citizen shouldn’t see, but all of the drama is just part of these guys’ lifestyle.”
The rappers featured in Pacman’s videos are part of the “grime” scene, a splinter of rap music that is less about swigging Grey Goose in the club, and more about …
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Narratively to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.