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Strong Arm Steady DVD [Fortress] USA

Strong Arm Steady DVD
Xzibit

The ever growing media empire that is Fortress have done it again and dropped another mind blowing DVD which any right minded Hip Hop fan wants to get their hands on. This one features the exploits of the newly formed Strong Arm Steady crew which comprises some of the dopest MCs the West coast has to offer. The members have a deep pedigree and are made up as follows: Mr X to the Z - Xzibit, from L.A.: Phil Da Agony and Krondon and Mitchy Slick from South East San Diego. Each of the members has 10 years in he game and has their own following, with Xzibit the most successful also having gained multi platinum sales and has hooked up with Dre and a whole host of others. Looking at the cover and the chapter breakdown ones anticipation grows. The 87 minute DVD features the usual fare, the camera follows the crew around their home patch with extensive studio footage. There is also lots of dope live performance footage showing the crews bugged out stage show where they even incorporate a low rider converted invalid carriage. All different events are covered, most of them on a pretty large scale including footage from the Cypress Hill Smokeout. The main thing one gets from this is that the guys really like party and especially getting blunted as they are seen burning big fat buds up constantly. There's even a couple of close calls with some security and the police as they are nearly caught. It is mostly light hearted throughout with jokes a plenty including near the beginning getting some crack head off the street to hold up their CD and say 'Strong Arm Steady', occasionally they act the hard man, but mainly its all friendly and their lives are now about having a good time.

The crew know just about everyone who is anyone and they get a whole heap of cameos on the DVD. Major players like Busta Rhymes explain how they have been great friends with Xzibit for years and the Dilated Peoples chop it up back stage. Original O.G.'s Ice T and King T of the Likwit crew feature with DJ Green Lantern and Cypress Hill who hand over a massive properly purple bud. Others who get a quick look in are Obie Trice, WC, Talib Kweli, D.J. Invisible, Sir Jinx and Big Boi as well as another dude with the name GLC and his buddy Kayne West and everyone else they come across whilst the camera is on. The main film is driven by Xzibit who sort of plays the role of narrator explaining the scenes and introducing the sections as well as breaking down his history. As the scenes play through each member of the crew gets a section to themselves where each member of the crew is interviewed giving their impressions of them interspersed with the particular crew member giving us an insight into their daily lives whether it be down the shops, lounging in a park or meeting up at the basketball court. Phil Da Agony can barely open his eyes throughout, but is still caught on camera frequently freestyling. Krondon in his pieces is mostly out on the streets hustling. He tells us he used to be a crack dealer, but now his job is slinging music. On the streets of South Central he shows us the crack spots and breaks down the beverages available in a liquor store.

There are quite a few scenes devoted to guns and everyone unloads a load of caps down at the range, and throughout they say that it is doing the music and smoking that is keeping all of them out of serious trouble. They are from South Central and they show you the realities on road. There is also more down to earth episodes as they deliver their product to the shops that 'bump their shit in the hood'. Although they are making moves world wide they show how they put in work in their local manor building a rep. Thy Sitting here in rainy London one thing that struck me was the great weather over in California. There is also sections looking at their cars and the souped up low rider as well as a few full tracks performed live including Steady Gang Anthem and U Can't Stop Us.

The overall quality of the DVD is great as usual. All the idents look crisp and appear in the right places. The widescreen picture is stable and the storyboard is well drafted although the direction is lost a touch towards the end. There is a whole audio section in both Dolby 5.1 for the Home Cinema enthusiasts as well as normal stereo. As you'd expect with and proper DVD there is also bonus material which includes videos for Ride & Smoke, Trigeration Station, a feature / obituary on promoter Bigga B who passed in 1999 and a large photo gallery.

Although occasionally the crew really were a touch too blasted to be filmed on the main they are coherent and quite animated. When contrasted with the DJ Quick DVD you don't feel that the artists have really exposed their inner souls, except for the exchange between Xzibit and Busta, or detailed how they go about constructing tracks, it is more like tagging along on a hectic, substance abuse filled, mad party weekend. In fact the only complaint I have about the DVD, and I'm not sure if it is a problem with my system and how I am using it or not, is that the audio selection menu simply takes me back to the previous menu and I don't ever get into the audio selection. I'm also not sure if I found the secret scene in the right way. But when I did find it it crashed my system a couple of minutes in. Never mind, even with these failings this is still a dope DVD and anyone who has been following the West coast will need to have this in their collection. I know Fortress have plans to drop more of these showcases and I'm looking forward to them already.
 

Check out www.fortressdvd.com :: www.strongarmsteady.com

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