DOWNTOWN Apparently, “it’s getting real in the Whole Foods parking lot” these days.
Believe it or not, that’s the jump off into a popular viral video that has racked up 2 million-plus YouTube views in less than a month.
The video, “Whole Foods Parking Lot,” follows David “DJ Dave” Wittman as he navigates the aisles of the upscale market with an almost cultish following. In the song he raps, “It’s how we live on the Westside of L.A.”
It begins with Wittman, a 37-year-old Santa Monican, “riding slow in his Prius,” looking for a parking space when another hybrid tries to swoop in on his spot — driving the wrong direction no less.
From there, he’s harassed by a guy with a clipboard at the door. Once inside the store, he finds out there is no more Humboldt Fog cheese in stock. Just another bummer since the store took “kombucha off the shelf.”
Filmed at Whole Foods locations in Santa Monica and Venice in late spring, the video takes a playful jab at the popular market while exposing a taste of living on the Westside, where it seems everybody frequents Whole Foods.
For Wittman, he’s just trying to pay his “80 bucks for six things and get the heck out.”
That and have a little fun at the same time.
“The satisfaction is a big part of it,” said Wittman, who works for a music production house in Santa Monica. “Getting e-mails from people who laughed is my favorite thing right now.”
The video may have attracted millions of views and the attention of the Wall Street Journal among other media outlets, yet its origins are quite humble.
Wittman first recorded the rap as an MP3, letting his circle of friends check it out on his Facebook page and other social media sites. With the support of a few friends in the entertainment industry and the encouragement of his fiancé, he decided to make a video to see what would happen.
He quickly recruited a core group of friends that gave the production a professional look and feel. Co-directed by George Woolley and Pedram Torbati, the video may have been filmed on a shoestring budget, yet it has a glossy production value thanks to the crew of industry pros who just wanted to help a pal out.
“As soon as I heard it, I knew we should do something,” Torbati said.
With a crew in hand, Wittman set about producing the 4-minute clip. Sans permits to shoot at the Whole Foods locations, Wittman and crew had to be clever about not attracting too much attention while they recorded.
Woolley said that a certain security guard at the Whole Foods on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice was instrumental in letting the crew film most of the parking lot scenes there. Apparently, he has a fledgling rap career of his own so he was easy on the fellas.
The purchase of a high-end, yet hand-held camera made the task a bit easier, but Wittman admits to being politely asked to leave at least two stores. They finished filming at the Montana Avenue location where Wittman said they “were cool.”
Once realizing that the project was something special, Wittman and company decided to form a collective dubbed Fog and Smog Films, so named because of Woolley and Wittman’s ties to both the Bay Area, where they were raised, and L.A., where they both reside.
There are no set plans for the new production house in the near future, but Wittman said that he’s already thinking about new projects.
While not intending to be a parody rapper, he figures that if people dig the work he might as well see where it takes him and Fog and Smog.
“I do creative things for a living,” said Wittman, who develops scores for films and commercials by day. “But you have to find things to inspire yourself.”
Wittman’s surprise success is even helping the reluctant rapper land side gigs. He opened up for legendary MC Too Short over the weekend.
“I’m flattered that some people like the delivery and the rhymes,” he said. “But, I would never present myself as a rapper.
“Real hip-hop people know that.”
If nothing else, it’s his appearance in the video as a rapper that has some not feeling his work.
Wittman said that more than a few people have called the video “yuppie rap,” with some flocking to message boards to remind him that he’s not your average rapper and this isn’t typical hip-hop material. He’s fine with that, it was never his intent, but he can’t help but lash back at times.
After reading a less than positive review on a local weekly newspaper’s website, he felt compelled to respond to his naysayers, even though he knows that’s not the right thing to do.
“This popularity thing is new to me,” he said. “But, I just had to say something.”