SIDNEY — Sidney: “My hometown is the sickest around.” — Hanksta.
The Sidney native, family man turned revived amateur rapper means the opening line of his recently released YouTube rap video “The Sickest” in the most affectionate way.
“It means the opposite. In hip hop, you use words like sick and ill — and describe it to mean the opposite — to mean something good,” said the video’s amateur rapper Sean LeMaster, whose stage name is Hanksta. “I’ve heard people calling Sidney ‘sick town’ now for a long time, probably for negative reasons, but I’ve turned it into a positive.”
The comedic video was released on YouTube on Oct. 10, 2017, and already has gained almost 6,600 views.
In the video, Lemaster is featured as “Hanksta” rapping over a catchy beat, dressed in several different and often funny looks, while located at and bragging about various notable Sidney landmarks. “The Sickest” quickly gained popularity and has been shared on many people’s Facebook pages in Shelby, Miami and Darke counties.
LeMaster, of Piqua, said he was motivated to create the video because he wanted to do something to pay tribute to his cousin Maria LeMaster, who died in June 2016. He said although she wasn’t necessarily into rap, he thinks she would have liked it because they both grew up in Sidney and she was musically inclined. Although Maria’s home was in Cincinnati, he thinks she would have appreciated seeing the various Sidney landmarks featured throughout the video.
“(Maria’s death) was real hard for our family. She was such a good person. I don’t think anybody would say anything bad about her. She was one of those fun (people). Every time you meet her, she would give you a hug, and she was like that with everybody; literally every single person. So I know people seeing (the video dedication) alone, is probably touching for them too,” LeMaster said.
Rapping for years, he said in high school he was known for his “goofball” sense of humor that is depicted in the video. LeMaster said he was been inspired by the comedian Tom Green’s style, whose career was at its height in late 90s and early 2000s. He said the style of “The Sickest” looks “hard” but the video is actually clean-cut and fun.
LeMaster said he heard that some people couldn’t understand the lyrics and think he is using an expletive to describe Sidney, instead of saying, “sick town.” He also heard someone was going to try to get the video taken down because of their confusion with the lyrics. But LeMaster assures the message about Sidney is not bad. Although rap videos are often vulgar, he said he wanted it to be clean so everyone could enjoy it.
“I’m proud to be from Sidney. There is more here than (neighboring cities), there is more landmarks, cooler stuff, better restaurants. There is more to (Sidney). I mean, we have a lot more people, so there is going to be more negative stuff too, but there is a lot more positive stuff that people don’t see,” LeMaster said. “I really like it here.”
In the video, Hanksta parades across Sidney’s Big Four Bridge, in front of The Spot and Frisch’s restaurants, The Shelby County Court House, BK Rootbeer Stand and the “Senior Rock” graffiti wall (behind BK Rootbeer Stand), the City Carry Out, Tawawa Park, Sidney Auto Vue Drive-In, the basketball court near Wilson Health, Sidney Waterpark and Rolling Hills Skate roller rink and he even gets a trim at the Downtown Barbershop.
“Personally, I love Sidney, I’ve been living in Piqua for seven years, but like I feel like I’m at home when I’m here. My parents are buried here, all of my family is here and most of my friends are here,” said LeMaster, who lives in Piqua to split the work commute for he and his wife Danielle.
LeMaster wrote the video, scenes and lyrics, but got cinematography help from Josh Bryant of Josh Bryant Media and help with the sound he was striving for from Travis Schaeff, both of Piqua.
“The cinematography is the magic of the video. The real magic was with Josh Bryant. It takes a cinematographer to capture (the feel) … couldn’t have done it without him,” LeMaster said.
Bryant shot the video over two days during the summer. LeMaster said he knew the video would turn out great because he knew the great quality of Bryant’s work. He said even though he was suffering with a pinched nerve during shooting, Bryant pushed him to redo scenes multiple times in order to get the best shots.
LeMaster said it almost brought tears to his eyes when the video was released on Maria’s birthday, on Oct. 10.
“It was awesome. I’m just grateful for it. I never expected it to get so popular,” Lemaster said.
Although the father of three admits he has no plans to change careers from working in a manufacturing shop to becoming a rapper, a comedic Christmas video and birthday video featuring a friend with the same shared birthday as LeMaster and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, hence the birthday video theme, is in the works to potentially be released in 2018.
Hanksta’s video, “The Sickest” can be viewed on YouTube at http://goo.gl/ZnnJaf .
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.