Judge Victor Valdivia says he loves the Dirty South. Dear God, please don't let that be some sort of euphemism.
The Dirty South is live and well.
Do you like Southern hip-hop? That's exactly what you'll get if you get this DVD: one hour of uncut, uncensored, undiluted Southern hip-hop performed live. Though Southern hip-hop has become increasingly popular over the last decade, thanks to artists like Outkast, Ludacris, and T.I., the style has never entirely won over some hip-hop fans, particularly those who favor the more intricate beats and intellectualized lyrics of New York and Chicago-based hip-hop. To be fair, not all Southern hip-hop relies on crude lyrics and simple bass-heavy beats, but all of the artists on this DVD definitely do. As occasionally diverting as the style can be, one hour of it eventually gets numbing, especially since some of the rappers here are not especially gifted at live performance.
Here are the artists who appear and the songs they perform:
Baby Boy Da Prince:
The show was filmed at a club in Miami to air on the Starz cable channel, so expect plenty of profanities and explicit lyrics. That would be fine, except that that's all you can expect, lyrically. Artists like Outkast and even T.I. can explore different areas besides money, guns, and girls but here that's all you'll get. The beats are all interchangeable from artist to artist, consisting of the same mid-tempo bass-heavy thump with occasional synth lines for color. In purely artistic terms, you're theoretically promised four artists but you'll really only get one.
At least if the rappers were scintillating live performers it would be easier to overlook their monotonous music. Unfortunately, here is where the disc really falters. Only Baby Boy and Gucci Mane actually put any effort into their performances, making them by far the most watchable. Baby Boy's version of his smash hit "This Is the Way I Live" is easily the show's high point, and is pretty much the only reason anyone should even consider this disc. By contrast, Stack$' shortcomings as both a lyricist and rapper are only emphasized by his inept live act. The real shocker, though, is just how dull Slim Thug is. For all his multi-platinum success, he is not a good live performer. He simply wanders around reciting his rhymes with absolutely no energy or charisma. It was a huge mistake to give him the lion's share of the show; it would have been better for Baby Boy and Gucci to get more air time and make this a more serviceable, if not exactly great, concert.
Starz's staging of the show doesn't do any of the rappers any favors. The rappers all perform in a dumpy, tacky club in front of a tiny, bored-looking audience while two scantily-clad dancers gyrate lethargically behind them. There could have been any number of ways to at least make this show visually compelling, but Starz chose to ignore all of them. The disc is even technically dull. Though the 1.78:1 non-anamorphic transfer is adequate, the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is soft and muddy. You'll have to turn it up to really hear the music, but even then you'll only hear bits and pieces, although most of those will be more than enough. There are no extras.
Ultimately, Hip Hop Raw & Uncut could only really appeal to an extremely limited audience of Dirty South fans, and even they will probably find this a subpar release. Hip-hop fans curious about Southern hip-hop will find far better places to start than this, and Dirty South fans will be put off by the slapdash presentation.
Hip Hop Raw & Uncut is guilty of satisfying no one.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
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