As an addict and gang member, rapper 3rd Twin was in dire straits. His brother had died of an overdose, his friend had been killed inches away from him, and his alcohol and prescription pill abuse was causing his life to spiral even more out of control. Though he once had been one of Portland’s most prolific underground rappers, he had drifted apart from music for years. He contemplated suicide one day, in his sister’s garage, but instead of putting barrel to temple, he decided to release a different kind of projectile, in the form of rapping about the dark place he found himself in.
"I was still hurting. That song was a cry for help. I was deep into my addiction and that was a therapeutic thing that I did on accident,” the rapper, whose off-stage name is Roy Moore, told the Portland Observer.
He recorded his partially improvised rap in late 2013, which he dubbed “Honesty,” and Moore’s nephew posted the video onto Facebook.
One of Moore’s best friends, Na’eem Hall, whom he’d known since high school, saw the video and began encouraging Moore to do more music. Hall was so inspired by the song that he started a record company, Thorn City Syndicate, and they began recording together.
From there, the song “Honesty” lead to a professionally produced version, featuring Grammy-winning producer Tiger Roberts, a journey back into sobriety, and an award winning and dream-like music video that is currently screening at film festivals all over the world.
"That song honesty was the catalyst to me changing my life,” Moore, 38, said.
Moore was on the fast track to stardom when he first began his career as a rapper as a pre-teen. But opioid addiction and personal tragedies knocked the Portland-native off his success track. Now, a 20 year veteran of the craft, Moore is taking the positivity formed from his new found sobriety to the streets through youth outreach and hip-hop.
“With recovery is freedom,” Moore describes. “At first you’re uncomfortable and scared and then angry. As your mind begins to quiet, that feeling of freedom strengthens…I felt like the new me. I felt like I was given a second chance.”
Written and produced by local filmmaker Juston Gaddis, the music video is told from the perspective of a man who commits suicide and finds himself in a purgatory between life and death (the suicide is represented symbolically, without using blood or gore). The video features stunning and inventive imagery of a pale-faced Moore, streaked with gun powder, rapping amongst cloaked figures who try to usher him into the after-life. At times, when Moore raps, a beam of light pours from his mouth--the only glimmer in the darkness--as he pours over the painful events in his life that fed into his addiction.
Acclaimed Oregon comic book artists and filmmakers Jacob and Arnold Pander, known commercially as the Pander Brothers, directed the music video.
The Pander Brothers took Gaddis’ initial treatment of a man in limbo and fleshed it out even more, utilizing some of their Hollywood connections to up the production value of the project. They enlisted special effects technicians from the locally filmed “Grimm” TV series to create powder explosive effects.