Our Jukies are at it again, this time in DVD format. Here we have the complete video collection of some of the most inventive artists in the game. This collection of videos serves as a testament to the fact that these artists' creativity is not left behind in the studio. The disc compiles a total of fourteen videos from the likes of El-P, Mr. Lif, RJD2, Murs, C-Rayz Walz and Aesop Rock.
El-P kicks things off with his frantic video for the paranoid "Deep Space 9mm", and with it begins a theme that runs throughout most of the videos; a sense of urban paranoia. Many of the videos on the disc contain images of the artists acting as rotagonists caught up in hostile and uncertain environments set against a gritty urban back drop. While each concept is different enough to avoid getting repetitive, there is a general feeling of impending doom surrounding not only the images but the music that accompanies them. El-P and Aesop Rock are the most glaring examples, but RJD2's "The Horror" gives off a similar vibe as he runs frantically through dilapidated buildings with dry blood on his head. Mr. Lif's "Live From The Plantation" conveys similar frustrations, though he manages to do so with a more humorous video about the daily grind of office work. This light-heartedness is ironic considering the song is taken from his brilliant "I, Phantom" album which ends with two songs that graphically detail the end of the world.
It's not all grim apocalyptic imagery though, thanks in large part to California emcee Murs. It's not hard to understand why he is seen by many as the odd one out in the Def Jux camp. The three videos offered up here ("Risky Business", "Bad Man" and "HUSTLE") are all humorous and set against the bright and sunny back drop of California. His videos are amongst the best on
The real disappointment, however, comes from C-Rayz Walz, the Bronx bred emcee who is perhaps the most talented of the bunch (yeah, I said it). Like many battle rappers, C-Rayz Walz has had a hard time translating his incredible lyrical ability and charisma into creating a coherent album. It's odd considering that Cannibal Ox's Vast Aire and Vordul Megallah (who's videos are not included in this "complete" collection) managed to create one of the best albums released on Definitive Jux (2001's "The Cold Vein") despite being less gifted lyricists. C-Rayz's "3 Card Molly" works with an interesting concept. It's shot in an affective grainy black and white and follows characters who are assassinated. Once they have died they arise again dressed in black hooded tops. They then pull the hoods over their heads which are extended and obscure their faces. Despite this, the video feels amateurish and holds up poorly against the raw power of the song itself. Fortunately, C-Rayz makes up for it with his "Buck 80" video which simply features him jumping up and down outside of some housing projects in the Bronx next to some woman in a chicken outfit. Brilliance.
There are a few extras thrown in for good measure. An Aesop Rock interview and some live performance footage from a handful of Jukies is featured. It's nothing too spectacular an needn't be as there is a second disc containing interesting software also included in the package. The Unimixlt provided within gives the user the ability to remix songs, four of which are provided. One can take out the drums, strings or vocals and rearrange songs completely. There is also a "Record" option, so you aspiring emcees can lay down your verses on some Def Jux tracks. The technology is easy to use and understand so even you luddites can enjoy it. WARNING: it is for PC's only.
All in all the DVD (as well as the upcoming "Bucket Of B-Sides" compilation) just cements the fact that the artists on Definitive Jux have spent the last six years putting out quality music. It's well worth picking up, however, I do hope El-P and the boys plan on wrapping up this little nostalgic trip they're on and put out more banging new material.