UK Hip Hop: International
Hip-Hop - The Collection [DVD]
Hip-Hop - The Collection
DJ Vadim feat. Rev. Chunky - R U Listening
Rodney P - Big Tings We Inna
Braintax feat. Jehst - Riviera Hustle
Blood Shedders - House Of Pain
Ice, Feat, La Tha Darkman/Wu-Tang - Unbreakable
Ice, Feat, Mista Chuck A.K.A Chuck D/Public Enemy, Rahan - Elvis Killed Kennedy
Ice, Train, Feat, Insane Clown Posse, La Tha Darkman/Wu-Tang, Zeno - Insane Killas
Roots Manuva - Dreamy Days (Includes Video)
Quakes - Neptune (Includes Video) 
This is a really exciting project, which as far as I'm aware could be the first Hip Hop DVD to come out of the UK, but I'm sure I heard someone else say they were doing one. On first appearance it is a very professional product and the producers - Classic Pictures are going about things in the correct way. They are a big company with a history of releasing some big name DVDs including Rick Wakeman and have released a whole host of compilation DVDs in other genres. They have the backing to do this correctly. For your £15.99 you get a 130 minute DVD which features some of the biggest names in UK Hip Hop with plenty of exclusive footage and curiously mixed in there are 3 tracks from an American called Ice, who has collaborated with some of the biggest names in US Hip Hop.

Upon viewing, the DVD is immediately disappointing. For several of the tracks, the only visuals we are treated to are simple throbbing colours and shapes similar to the automatic backgrounds you get in real player or I-tunes. Some weren't even in time with the music. Things like this may be acceptable for the dance market, but on this it comes over as if minimal effort has been put into the visual elements. Other tracks such as Roots Manuva's Dreamy Days and Quakes have their official videos included, which although they are good to see, these are just what you would see on MTV, there is nothing additional. One of the most disappointing things was that tracks I thought would have a visual accompaniment were just audio tracks. This included Braintax & Jehst's Riviera Hustle track and Rodney P's Big Tings We Inna. So really if you are to purchase this DVD you would be doing so in order to obtain the exclusive footage filmed especially for the DVD in the Classic Pictures studios in Shepperton.

The live performances include Task Force, Killa Kela, Fredi Kruga, the Mixologists and Karl Hinds, an impressive line up, but these too come over as sterile, the mood not being helped because there is no atmosphere in the large empty studio where it was filmed. There is no audience for the performers to react to and limited camera angles. Fredi Kruga features in his own studio setting rather than the big warehouse the others are featured in and the atmosphere is more there for this clip. Freddy appears bare chested, and genuinely freestyles and that could be the reason for delivering some under par lyrics. Towards the end of his bit Fredi changes up and chats reggae style and is much more suited to this style of delivery. 

The Killa Kela session is a look at one of the world’s finest human beat boxes in session and he is accompanied by MC Normski sporting a massive afro. A 70's type dot effect is projected over the picture as Kela conjours beats vocals and scratches from his mouth amazingly all at the same time! Normski adds his own ad libs and hype comments, but seems a bit out of place. Kela effortlessly moves through a variety of styles ending in what must be the ultra complex, but ultimatly exciting Drum n Bass vibe. 

The Mixologists (UK DMC Team Champions & Runners Up World DMC Team Champions) raise a rather large hand from the world of Turntablism, DJ Benny G & Go expose an exclusive performance while the camera’s roll for two sets. The Task Force piece is billed as 'A unique look at Chester P and Farma G live in session accompanied by their DJ Louis Hackett'. Their set starts off with a scratch intro from Louis Slippers and then the Bros. Mc Bain perform Battlecats. This should be a tune full of energy, but the lads have their eyes down as there is nothing to focus on and it doesn't really show them off to their best potential. 

Karl Hinds features in a live session featuring DJ Dante in a blend of freestyle and renditions of his most popular tunes including Don Gramma. Hinds was voted a winner for Best Video @ this years discredited UK HIP HOP Awards. This section looks a bit more classy, featuring a '24' style split screen to begin with. I do think they might have been better off going to film some gigs and getting some more lively footage, but they have made an effort to obtain exclusive footage of some of the UK top acts and this is welcomed. You just wish there was more of it.

Ice is the featured US act who gets three tracks on the DVD for some reason, maybe because by way of guest appearances he brings with him some of the worlds biggest names including: LA tha Darkman from the Wu-Tang Clan and Chuck D from Public Enemy, With Elvis Killed Kennedy and Unbreakable which are fused with a relevant visual element and cartoon backing respectively. Unknown UK crew Blood Shredders ft. MC Tukill are included with their House Of Pain track as well. Although the packaging design by Adam Lovesey is tasty, as usual the Cannabis leaf is tiresomely associated with Hip Hop. The drug undoubtedly is, but I don't need to see Cannabis leaves on every bit of Hip Hop merchandise. One of the nicest things about the DVD are the small animated cartoon idents designed by Nathan Turner that appear behind the menus.

With a DVD I would have expected copious textual background information like a web page, and interviews and all sorts of little extra things thrown in. What we really have is a compilation Audio CD with minimal use made of the extensive functions available in the DVD format. I guess I'm used to the job that is done for DVD releases of multi million pound feature films and quite frankly the good ones are in a different league. However, in this package you get a DVD and a reasonable compilation CD. If you don't have these tracks this would be a good way to pick them up and after all this is a new technology in a small market, so Classic Pictures were never going to invest millions in the production. Hopefully this will give techno heads something to play on their new equipment and can pave the way for more substantial releases in the future.

Contact: Classic Pictures Entertainment Limited
Shepperton International Studios, Studios Road, Shepperton,
Middesex TW17 0QD www.classicpictures.co.uk  
Tel: +44 (0) 1932 592016 :: benclassicpics@aol.com

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