Friday, May 2, 2008

Mmm Dropped?

So, in my the comments to my recent post Hot Garbage, on the subject of Hot Karl's debut album (or his second, depending how you look at it), it was brought to my attention that Hot Karl was featured in a documentary called Dropped. It's distributed by Sundance, but seems to be a Netflix exclusive (I guess they mainly bought it for their channel). So, anyway, I told him I'd rent it, and I did... and here's the scoop:

It's a 60 minute (roughly) film, broken up into 7 or 8 segments, each on a different music group that got dropped from a major label. It's not hip-hop specific, but three of the segments are on hip-hop acts (including, yes, Hot Karl). With that many pieces crammed into that short a running time, you might think they couldn't possibly get into very much depth - and you'd be right. They're mostly just short interviews mixed with performance clips for each artist or group... they play like EPKs for the most part. I'm just going to touch on the hip-hop acts, 'cause, you know, nobody cares about rock music on this blog. ;)

I've just watched this, and I already don't remember much about Spearhead's segment. It's the most EPK-ish of the three... a single interview with lead vocalist Micheal Franti who spends most of his time talking about the first Spearhead album. He makes the point that he's glad he was dropped because this way he can continue to address topics his label wouldn't get like because they were too radical.

The Hot Karl piece is actually much better... it's the one they open the film with, it's the longest by far, and it features interviews with a bunch of people besides just Hot Karl himself. A couple radio DJs talk about how he won an on-air freestyle contest, which is what got labels interested in him - they seem pretty genuinely enamored with him as an MC. Will I. Am shares some memories of being on Interscope when all of the label's attention was focused on Karl. As Karl elaborates, Interscope was apparently convinced he would be the next big thing and gave him a limitless budget. Whatever he asked for he got... at least until they signed Eminem, after which he was totally shut out, his project was shelved and they lost all interest in him. Mack 10 (which this doc continually spells as "Mac 10" on-screen) talks about how he tried to sign Hot Karl to his own label but Karl held out for the Interscope deal (hindsight is a big theme in this doc). You can also tell by how his clothing and the location keeps changing that they interviewed Karl on more than one occasion, unlike the other artists in the other segments - this is clearly their star segment. I'd bet the doc was originally intended to be all about Karl, and then the other interviews were done to broaden the subject matter into something more marketable.

One thought I had while watching the Hot Karl segment... he takes a shot at A&Rs, saying they're all really just frustrated musicians who wish they could rap or perform but lack the talent. It's almost painful how he misses the irony that the exact same thing could be said of former musicians who get dropped before releasing any records. Both statements are unfair, mean-spirited, and true probably about 95% of the time. Maybe he should be applying for an A&R position at Interscope?

Finally, the third hip-hop segment claims to be about Burning Star, but I think the filmmakers are just confused here... The segment consists of just one interview with Apl. De Ap who talks all about The Atban Klan. He tells about how they were signed and dropped by Ruthless Records, which is kinda interesting, but it's much too brief to really get hook us. Bizarrely, Will I. Am was interviewed for the Hot Karl segment, but not this one, when he was a member of the Klan! Now, Burning Star is a band that did a few songs with Klan/ Black Eyed Peas, but Apl. is not a member, and the whole interview is about the Klan, not Burning Star. There are a few seconds of footage of a Burning Star show, which I guess Apl. was at when they interviewed him. Considering the filmmakers didn't know how to spell Mack 10's name, I'm guessing hip-hop isn't really their "thing" and they just didn't understand the distinction between the two groups.

Anyway, all in all, Dropped doesn't get nearly close enough to its subjects, and is too lazily assembled to be considered a good film. The Hot Karl segment is the most compelling and the best done, and even that's way too short to really be worth tracking the film down (basically what I wrote above gives you all there is to be found in the three hip-hop segments, and the rock segments are no better), so you can save yourself the trouble... but if you happen to catch it on the Sundance channel, it'll hold your interest for the short time investment it takes.

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, that was me that suggested that you see "Dropped" on Netflix. I'm Dart Adams, a Hip Hop blogger that's been blogging since 2006. Check my blog out @ http://poisonousparagraphs.blogspot.com/

    Good lookin' out in checking the flick out. Ap showed up and they became the Black Eyed Peas and homie bounced from the Atban Klann to start to the group Burning Star (made from the ashes of the Atban Klann). Why Will wasn't asked about that situation was beyond me as well.

    One.

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  2. Oh ok, cool yeah.  I'm familiar with PP from the VE boards.  Thanks for dropping by!

    The thing with Burning Star is that Apl clearly became a member of BEP, but he doesn't seem to ever have been an actual member of Burning Star.  I really don't know much about BS, but they wrote their line-up on their own site as being:

    "Joshua Alveraz -'Master 720 King' - M.C., Spoken Word
    Koliyah Whitecould- M.C. Lead Vocals
    Quincy 'Q' McCrary - Vocals, Keyboards
    Peter Rosen 'Alter' - Guitar, Flute
    Emilio Saenz - Electric Bass Guitar, Upright Bass
    Cisco Huete - Drums, Latin Percussion
    Jerry Morales - Latin Percussion"
    (Apl's real name is Allan Pineda Lindo, not any of the names above)

    And they described themselves in their bio as a group that" opened for" BEP.  I think the filmmakers got BEP and BS confused.

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