Friday, August 20, 2010

The Original Beat Diggin' Doc

I'm trying to get a little deeper with my hip-hop documentary coverage on here lately, if you haven't noticed. And you really can't keep covering these - especially on a site like this one with so much emphasis on underground and vinyl - without talking about the original Beat Diggin' documentary, pretty much the first ever documentary film on the art of diggin' in the crates, at least from a hip-hop perspective. There've been several since, but this is the first.

Directed by Jesper Jensen, this first hit the internet about 10 years ago. And unfortunately, to this day, this remains unavailable on DVD. Part of the reason for that is surely that it's a short film, only thirty minutes long. Finding distribution for a short film is next to impossible. But, fortunately for us, it is literally all over the internet. Just do a search for "beat diggin" and you'll find it on Youtube, Google Video, Vimeo, and a billion video hosting sites you've never even heard of. So I'm gonna go out on a limb and say don't feel guilty for streaming or downloading this one; there is no purchasable option.

The documentary is pretty straight-forward... it interviews a bunch of New York's most respected crate-digging producers, including Diamond D, Showbiz, Da Beatminerz and Godfather Don. We see them in the studio and out at record stores, talking us through their purchases. We talk to record store owners and even see some live performance footage by Common and Mos Def (which sorta doesn't quite fit in, but what the heck). For only being thirty minutes, it gets pretty in-depth... Diamond talks about how producers no longer loop drums, "everything's more programmable now," and that breaks are now all about grooves. Godfather Don talks about how to create new drum beats by using pieces of different familiar break beats, and also why perhaps you shouldn't do that. I'm not gonna spoil everything, though; just go watch it.

Since 2001, Jensen's has gone on to produce some other indie hip-hop docs for his production company, Busybody Films, including Tape Masters, Who's Next?, and his latest, Beats, Rhymes and Videotape. You can read up on all those on Jensen's myspace, here, and check out clips and trailers on his Youtube channel, here.

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