Wednesday, July 2, 2008

InstaRapFlix 9: Lyricist Lounge: Hip Hop Video Classics

I was all set to have a new video post, but the encoding is taking for-frikking-ever, so I said to heck with it, stormed away and consoled myself with a Netflix quickie on a friend's PC. That video update's still coming tomorrow, but for tonight I've selected: Lyricist Lounge: Hip Hop Video Classics (Netflix rating: 1 star).

First of all, I don't know what this supposedly has to do with The Lyricist Lounge, except they've got their name in the title. The opening credits show DJ Spinbad doing a little cutting and then we jump right into Run DMC & Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" video. See, here's the idea: DJ Spinbad does a mix of a few major, commercial hip-hop tunes, and the music videos are mixed (i.e. back-cued) along with the music.
It's kind of interesting at first. But the novelty quickly vanishes because, like your typical lame-o mixtape, the DJ actually does very little creative work. You wind up watching the videos straight, forgetting it's some "super special DJ video mix" until suddenly the image stutters and repeats itself a few times to match some scratching. Then it goes back to playing like normal for the next five minutes.

This idea might've been a lot more interesting if they got a DJ like Mixmaster Mike to really cut up and destroy a whole TON of songs, giving you this wild collage of intersplicing imagery. I mean, I don't know if that would be cool or horribly annoying, actually; but I guess until Mike decides to give it a go, we'll never find out.

It's hard to imagine someone would want to pay retail for a short (52 minutes including credits, or 13 music videos total) mix of some ultra-mainstream songs (stuff even your little sister who doesn't listen to rap surely already owns on CDS), where you can't even watch the videos all the way through. Oh, and they use only the clean, edited-for-commercial-television versions. He even does annoying name-drops over the mix, in case some shark DJ out there was thinking of biting his ultra-rare recording of "Passin' Me By!"

I mean, it's not terrible. though they're all obvious, some of the choices are fun old school songs; and any chance to watch a Chubb Rock video (by far the most "underground" artist featured, and of course they selected "Treat 'Em Right") is gonna be entertaining. So even though the playlist feels like it was written by a VH1 music exec who just wiki'd the phrase "big rap hits," they ARE still great hip-hop songs. But basically the gimmick - largely because it's so undercooked - winds up adding nothing and even detracting from the experience. A DVD of 50 minutes worth of straight music videos would be more worth the purchase (and judging by the Netflix rating and comments, most users feel the same). But I'll give 'em a half a point for a germ of an idea at some early stage of the development process, for whatever that's worth. Instawatch it if you're bored. I did.

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