Sunday, December 13, 2009

InstaRapFlix #24:Hip-Hop Time Capsule - The Best of RETV 1992

It's been a little while since we've done an InstaRapFlix. I wanna get a bunch of these done, because I think it'll eventually all add up to a nice little database of hip-hop DVDs, many of which don't get reviewed any place else on the web. So, for today we've got one I chose at random... Hip-Hop Time Capsule - The Best of RETV 1992 (Netflix Rating: 2.5 stars).

It starts off with a stand-up comic named Brandon T. Jackson who introduces the content and makes a commercial for his upcoming comedy DVD. Considering how awful hosts have been in some previous InstRapFlix entries have been, I was surprised to say this guy's actually not bad. He's not annoying and seems to have a genuine knowledge of the artists he's talking about. We're off to a good start.

But then it kinda grinds to a halt around the 3 minute mark. For the next 40-odd minutes they just play music videos from 1992 (Brand Nubian, Das EFX, FamLee, Fu-Schnickens, Cypress Hill, etc.). But they don't play the whole thing, just 2/3s, jumping in at random points and cutting the rappers off mid-sentence. That gets annoying pretty quick. Also the video quality of the videos is pretty poor - something they try to mask but window-boxing it, and then putting the video inside an even smaller box. I've never seen something double window boxed before! One good thing, though, is the video clips are uncensored... it's refreshing to see a BDP video with Krs One actually saying "shut the fuck up" rather than "Shut the [bleep] up."

The music video (portions) run uninterrupted for the first full half of the film.

The second half is more interesting and varied; starting with some vintage interviews with different artists. The interviews don't get too deep - pretty much the same as when you'd have a guest on Rap City or Yo!, but what's weird is the fact that the video for these is only playing in a small portion of the screen! The rest is taken up with giant, still logos and crap. I mean, if you thought the double window-boxing of the music videos before was weird, well I can't even explain it... I just have to show you guys a screenshot:

See? What is all that crap taking up the whole screen? The artists they interview are mixed... they talk to The UMC's, Kriss Kross, Naughty By Nature, The Awesome Two, some music video director they don't bother to identify (actually, the don't identify most of the artists they interview... fortunately, I just recognize most of them), Cypress Hill, and Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Those interviews last about 15 minutes or so.

The next portion of the movie is comprised of random clips of live footage. It's displayed in the same small box as the interviews, and the footage is clearly being taken from behind the audience. So it doesn't look or sound to pretty. Often, the vocals are so muddy you can't even make out what the MC is saying. Black Sheep, Krs-One, Das EFX, Naughty By Nature, Kriss Kross, Tim Dog, are all shown; and if you're thinking that's a lot of artists for so short a time, you're right. We pretty much see less than a song apiece from each. But it's just as well.

The screen opens up (ha!) to the double window-boxing for the last fifteen minutes. We get a freestyle session from Da Youngstas and a couple of the artists they interviewed previously (clearly recorded at the same time and location). That last for about five minutes.

Then, finally the screen returns back to a regular full-screen, respectable video quality image like we saw in the introduction. Oh yeah, whatever happened to our host? He never came back after he plugged his DVD. Oh well. Instead we have Lady Bug Mecca reminiscing about her time with Digable Planets. This is really the best part, and besides the opening, the only part that was clearly shot for this DVD.

Then it finally wraps up with some commercial for another DVD they had coming out back in 2004. The whole thing runs for an hour and 25 minutes, which is at least full movie length.

If you purchased this DVD, you would be pissed that the butchered music videos, the low quality, the ridiculous way they shove most of the video up in the top corner, and just the random crap mash-up of old VHS footage in general. But if you're up for a free InstaRapFlix viewing, I recommend firing up and skipping to the last 10 minutes. That Lady Bug interview's only six minutes long, but it's worth your time. Too bad the rest of the DVD wasn't like that.

Oh, and I checked... there is a Hip-Hop Time Capsule - The Best of RETV 1993 DVD up on Netflix for instant viewing, so watch for that review here in the near future.

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