Forget about “Empire State of Mind.” For two University of Miami seniors, it’s all about Nassau County.
In mid-August, Nash Prince and Evan Krumholz created a YouTube video spoof of Jay-Z’s hit, along with two friends who also hail from Long Island, Tyler Gildin and Cody Milch. The video went viral overnight.
“We all grew up on Long Island so we were just taking all the different stereotypes… and going with it,” Prince said.
New Yorkers, and even those from out of town, connected instantly with the parody, referencing familiar Long Island restaurants, shopping areas and inside jokes.
“There are always certain truths- like there is a large Persian population in the Great Neck area and Matteo’s is the spot to eat; we just put all the things we’ve been saying all along in the song,” said Krumholz, who co-wrote the lyrics with Gildin. “If you’re from the area it strikes a cord on a very personal level.”
Once Krumholz and Gildin perfected the lyrics, they approached Milch to direct and Prince to work with the music for the project. The four began by recording the track in Prince’s home studio, where he later produced it.
“[The recording] was pretty rough at the time. I just helped smooth it out and lowered Tyler’s voice so he sounded more like a rapper,” Prince said with a laugh. “I also sang on it, added in a few effects here and there and, when we had finished, we started filming.”
After three days of shooting and two days of editing, the four posted their finished product, with a runtime of 4 minutes and 37 seconds, onto YouTube on Aug. 13.
“Our main goal was to get 5,000 hits in one week,” Prince said. “Instead we got 200,000 in three to four days; I was just blown away.”
The boys were immediately featured on the NBC New York news program, the Howard Stern H-100 radio show and also on many popular blogs and Web sites, like Barstoolsports.com.
“YouTube is the best vehicle to get stuff out. We had a feeling it would be popular with our friends, but had no idea how big it would get,” Krumholz said.
According to YouTube’s analytic information posted below the video, it has received over 656,679 hits as of Sept. 7, has been viewed on almost every continent and is most popular with people in their early 40s to mid-50s.
“The biggest surprise has probably been the age demographic of the people who view the video,” Prince said. “It’s a lot of people sending it to all their friends, people who still live in Nassau County and ones that have moved away but enjoy the memories of home.”
Senior Dana Bornstein found the same to be true with her mother, who is originally from Long Island.
“I sent the video to my mom on Facebook,” Bornstein said. “She doesn’t really know how to do Facebook, so she just kept posting it on her own wall. But all her friends kept commenting on it, that they had either been to all those places to eat or shop or that they thought it was funny and could not wait to post it.”
While older viewers greatly identified with the video, younger generations still found a humor in the spoof.
Sophomore Tali Shapira, who attended high school with Gildin and Milch, had similar sentiments.
“Everything they sing about represents my hometown of Hewlett to the tee,” Shapira said. “There isn’t one detail they missed in their rap.”
While the four boys have received a multitude of encouraging feedback, not all of it has been positive; some responses include death threats and anti-Semitic comments.
“It’s easier to hide behind a computer screen and say those things,” Prince said. “For the most part, I think it’s people who don’t get the joke, that we’re poking fun at all the different stereotypes.”
Despite the occasional off-putting comment on YouTube, Prince and Krumholz remain optimistic and find their situation humorous.
“I’ve been approached a couple times at parties and have taken pictures with people,” Prince said. “It’s funny actually, one girl came up to me and asked if I was the guy with long flowing hair from the video… and if she could take a picture with me. It’s been a wild ride.”
Not only has “Nassau (County) State of Mind” provided Prince, Krumholz and their two friends with a one-of-a-kind experience and newfound fame, but they have also created a platform to further their careers.
“We knew [the video] would be funny and definitely a good way to show people what we can do,” Krumholz said. “We are all creative in different ways, like Nash is an aspiring musician, I’m a writer and do standup, Cody wants to direct and Tyler wants to be do standup. The video was just a really good vehicle… And a musical tribute to Long Island was clearly well-needed.”
Danielle Kaslow may be contacted at email@example.com.
-Get your own “Nassau (County) State of Mind t-shirt; a percentage of the sales will benefit local Nassau charities. Log on to nassaucountystateofmind.com and pick out your favorite design.
-Want to learn more about Nash and Evan? Check out Nash’s music site (nashprince.com) and Evan’s blog (krumlife.com).
SIDEBAR- Reactions to “Nassau (County) State of Mind”
“[The parody] is a perfect portrayal of the Long Island lifestyle and it’s very entertaining. ” –Senior Dana Bornstein.
“If you’ve never been to Nassau before, then either watch this video to sum up your [trip], or go and see [the places featured in] the video in real life. I will say that if you are brave enough to enter Nassau’s own little world, you must eat at Marinara.” – Sophomore Tali Shapira.
“I first saw the video on Nash’s Facebook. I’m not from Nassau County but I have multiple friends from there so over the past four years, I’ve been hearing all the jokes and I just think it’s hilarious.” – Senior Greg Orgel.