Oakland, CA is known for the Raiders, MC Hammer and the Black Panther movement.
Its landscape and scenery could be easily taken out of any Urban magazine or premiere travelers journal. Whichever it is, it still could not completely capture the essence and beauty it posses. The truth about “The Town” is that it has a long line of historical beauty that rarely surfaces but definitely exists. It has produced some of the most influential and talented people in the entertainment industry such as Academy award winners Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood. On the music tip, Oakland got that on lock with artists like Raphael Saadiq, Too Short, and Sheila E.
So let’s talk about one particular product of this talented hub. Meet Oakland native, Music Video Director, Taj Stansberry. This vivacious and often curious young man began his career by playing around with his friend’s uncle’s camera and started taking pictures. He illustrated an apparent knack for capturing some of the real beauty of his community. Then while taking breaks during work, he would often ﬁnd himself watching music videos on a TV that didnʼt have sound. Stansberry watched these music videos and began to observe videos frame by frame studying the quality of what he was watching and not really paying attention to the music. He said, “I watched those videos and thought to myself, I could do better.” Recognizing his talent and the passion for ﬁlm, he had the opportunity to work for music video director, Anthony Mandler. Under the direction and guidance of his mentor he began to ﬂourish and develop his own creative style. With only a summer of experience, exposure and little training, Stansberry opted to try out his talents on a Bay Area rap group and offered to ﬁlm their video. Using his own money, he directed and produced his ﬁrst music video which after only one week on
YouTube had over 400,000 views. He then directed 3 more music videos to build his resume in hopes for more exposure and high end paying directing opportunities. After a dry spell and no interest, he decided to attempt a more stable route and enroll in college for proper training. On his way to his ﬁrst day of class he was called by Lou Miguel of BoxFresh Productions whom offered Stansberry a position. He began working on his ﬁrst professional level video with Pop sensation, Rihanna. Thatʼs not luck, thatʼs genius!
Sixty plus music videos later, working with artists like Jennifer Lopez, Music Soulchild, and Usher just to name a few, Stansberry is in high demand and is constantly traveling to satisfy the caliber of his talent. He has been working non-stop, yet still has time to create different concepts for music videos which continue to bring him success. His work ethic comes from a very street disciplined life-style that was learned as a young man in Oakland. “Iʼm from the land of independent hustle. You have 10 and 11 year olds selling bootleg videos on the street and cashing in $300 a week. I had no excuse to not make it.” Although the streets are relentless and the paper chase is real, Stansberry never fell victim to a life of crime and pays homage to his mother for that. “My mother kept us close and was a disciplinary. I was able to stay clear of all that.” His inspiration came from the creative fabric and struggles of Oakland which taught him how to grind and respect the grind. “People in the Bay hustle and get what they want so I didnʼt want to go against the grain, I did the same thing.” He shares that he is very blessed to have so much creative control on projects. “A lot of the concepts come from things I want to get off my chest, things Iʼm going through and I get to manifest it in a music video.” Heʼs a sucker for love stories and some of his favorite work has been music videos that derive from love.
Ultimately, Stansberry uses his “hustle mentality” to drive his work and constantly create opportunities. If there is an aspiring kid who is ﬂirting with the idea to embark on ﬁlm his suggestion is, “Do it. Shoot everything and anything. Nothing is wrong. Youʼll make beautiful mistakes and it will either feel good or it wonʼt. Learn who you are as a person and learn how you want to touch peopleʼs lives.” His experiences and fate have led him to the forefront of directing music videos. Heʼs killin’ the game and isnʼt going anywhere but straight to the top. He is currently working on some projects that are sure to have jaws drop so stay tuned.
What Stansberry wants for people to know about him is that, he aspires to touch everything and to have it all. “I donʼt need anything, but I do want to know what it feels like to have everything.” His determination to reinvent himself and keep his work fresh is going to sustain him in the industry. Taj is WhatitDo!
Article Written By: RAEN
*Photos courtesy of Taj Stansberry
*YouTube video courtesy of JenniferLopezVevo
*YouTube video courtesy of FGRSGE
*YouTube video courtesy of UsherVevo
*YouTube video courtesy of RihannaVevo
*YouTube video courtesy of Big SeanVevo
*YouTube video courtesy of KeyshiaColeVevo
*YouTube video courtesy of LudacrisVevo
*YouTube video courtesy of rifle17