various artists :: No Boundaries Soundtrack
Label: Slam Jamz/Music Video Distributors
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Honesty is always the best policy, and with that being said I have to
be perfectly honest with the readers of this review. First of all,
I've never seen the show/movie/series that "No Boundaries" is supposed
to be a soundtrack for. I tried Google searching it and ended up with
a bunch of links to charities that operate across international lines.
I also tried the Slam Jamz website, but every link seemed to require me to sign up
for an account to view content, which I didn't really feel like doing.
Secondly it's entirely possible I'm missing the point, and that "No
Boundaries" is a soundtrack unto itself. Confused? So was I when I
opened this DVD case and found two discs inside. One is the DVD I'm
reviewing, the other is a CD "soundtrack" unto itself with 17 tracks.
Other than Public Enemy and the The Impossebulls, I can honestly state I haven't heard of anyone
that's on it. General Pop? Dirty North? 7th Octave? Most Hi-Fi?
To me these seem like band names created with a random word generator.
I'll come up with a few myself - Octavius Fish, Disco Porno, Cheddar
Posse, Atari Organ, Nuclear Monkey. See, it's a fun game that
YOU TOO can play along with at home! Nonetheless I have to
be fair and assume there's a method to this madness, particularly
since it seems to have been orchestrated by a hip-hop icon who I
hold in the highest regard - the legendary Chuck D himself.
Our feature presentation opens with the word "745filmspresents" (yes
one word, not seperate, and seemingly the only people involved who
aren't hyperlinked on the DVD jacket) and the title "The Road Show:
The Official General Pop 'Bar None' Tour Documentary." At least now
I have some idea of what's going on - one of the groups from the CD
side of this two-disc set is going to be profiled - General Pop.
We're introduced to Billy Ray Valentine, the lead vocalist of the
group, sitting in a recording studio. The other members are quickly
cameoed: Link, Dub (pronounced DOOB due to a German U), JM, and Dr.
DQ Triple C(apparently the one drinking a 40 and stumbling around).
Billy Ray lets us know they're from Harlem, even though his name
would make you think he's a country singer from Alabama. We go to
one of the members of the group wearing a Jets jersey and a doo-rag
live outdoors, as he welcomes the "hundred people watching this" to the
Harlem streets. I'm not sure if he's being funny, or just as blatantly
honest as I was in the first paragraph. The video footage and
editing seem too MTV-slick for something only meant to be seen by
100 people though, so I'll assume he's joking. We flip to them at the
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles Airport. Billy Ray is telling us
how gangster he is, along with some incomprehensible story about how
he came about. First tip - if you and your bandmates are telling
some story about your origins for home video, try to make it more clear.
They listen to beats on a laptop in the hotel room, and generally show
us how ugly any of us look when we've just come off an airplane and
crashed in a hotel room. Maybe if Redman was narrating this, it
would be some funny shit. Right now I'm bored off my fucking ass.
Thankfully that's what remote controls are for.
After many minutes of inane conversation in their hotel room, we
skip to the next day when the sun comes up and they load up a Pontiac
to go do their first show in San Diego - the "tour bus" if you will.
I can't knock it though - I've seen a lot of live bands rip shows
in small venues that loaded and unloaded their entire set out of a
minivan. You don't need a tour bus to know how to rock. Apparently
they're envious of Public Enemy's tour bus though, because we
immediately get treated to an inside look at theirs. General Pop
at least seem to be not be too mad about the whole thing, as the
band member in the NYC shirt says "you have to ride in that before
you get to ride in this." Of course, he forgot to mention that
due to the way the music industry is structured, 99% of artists
and groups out there will never graduate beyond the Pontiac minivan.
En route to San Diego, we're treated to them practicing their
material. They seem like a cross between The Roots and Pharcyde,
into live instrumentation sounds and uptempo vocals. They don't
stink by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not overwhelmed
by how dope they are either. We flip back to Billy Ray in the
sutdio narrating, and then back to the group marking out at seeing
the Pacific Ocean. Hey that's no big - I did the same thing the
first time I was in Santa Cruz. Then we go backstage at "Belly Up,"
which is apparently the big show they're playing. Way too much
time is spent on some dude being half-dressed, buttoning and
unbuttoning his shirt. They finally get introduced and come out
on stage to perform their song "Falling Down," but I get the feeling
they were the opening act given the tepid reaction they got. The
song seems decent enough, but you can't really make out the words
from a live performance, so unless you'd heard them before you
wouldn't glean anything about what they're like. The camera stays
focused on the stage the whole time, so we can't even tell if the
crowd is reacting to their antics on stage. We flip back to the
studio where Billy Ray and Triple C are discussing throwing
flyers out to the crowd. Yes - it's that exciting. Then we see
them hanging out backstage with white bitches. Yup - at every
rap show, you'll find a few white bitches who want to get drunk
and hang out backstage - even an unknown group like General Pop.
I stopped caring about the story, and fast-forwarded to them warming
up at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. A huge P.E. silhouette is
behind them on stage, just in case you had any doubt whose tour it was.
They perform another song I don't know. The rather cliched formula
of switching back to Billy Ray narrating from the studio is executed
yet again, and apparently Triple C is some sort of relic from the 60's
who has a hippie attitude (and generally sounds high on 20 different
things any time he speaks) and doesn't like the "asshole" road manager.
Road managers generally have to be assholes though, or their hippie
drunk band members don't ever make it to the show and get on stage
in time. "The Next Day - on Venice Beach" General Pop is checking
out the wares from a vendor who has everything for the marijuana
connoisseur. Triple C is still bitching about the road manager at this
point, and Billy Ray is showing off the pipe for smoking dope that he
just bought. Triple C asks him "Do you put little white rocks in
there?" He seems like a guy who would know. I'm really tired of it
at this point, so I'm reaching for the remote again. They continue
to wander around Venice Beach, and apparently Billy Ray playing a
pick-up game of basketball was important enough for a chapter insert.
Next - House of Blues in Anaheim. More backstage shit, including the
exciting footage of them riding in an elevator. I'm starting to
think that "100 people watching" thing was accurate, because only
hardcore fans that know who General Pop is would still be interested.
This ain't funny or entertaining like backstage tour footage from
Xzibit or Tha Liks - it's just plain boring. Since I don't know any
of their songs, I really can't get into the live performances either.
I skipped ahead to the next chapter called "What is a DAT?" It's
more backstage giggling at inside jokes only General Pop seem to
understand. Not interested. I'm hitting the chapter skip again.
This one is titled iLardo 'Craka' Rivera, and apparently General
Pop is outdoors interviewing some street bum who used to do acid tabs.
He's also got some skull tattoo on his arm, which the camera man
seems intensely interested in. As if I didn't think these guys
had too much to do with substance abuse already, they continue to
interview the street bum about what his favorite kinds of alcohol
and weed are. He's apparently a married street bum though, and he
has a tattoo for his wife as well. Even General Pop has had
enough of his bullshit stories, as the band member and cameraman
get up and walk away. Then we go to footage of them live at The
World in New York City, apparently on the Dilated Peoples
"Expansion Team" tour. Same live show I've seen four or five times
already, so I'm chaptering ahead again. Next up, they get into a
confrontation with the NYPD, as they're lamping at a subway
station waiting to catch a ride. They don't like the cameras,
don't like the music they're listening to, and tell them unless
they have a permit from the T.A. they can't film anything. Typical
pigs, throwing their weight around just because they can, telling
them only "Joe Blow from Iowa" would get away with what they're doing.
Possibly the most interesting part of the DVD thus far, just
because these pigs have no idea what assholes they're looking or
sounding like on this video.
Next up is a chapter confusingly titled "Jon Marc Sandifer's
Knowing Richard Black The Preview." Apparently this chapter was
supposed to come after two music videos according to the DVD cover,
but it comes before. It's some spoken word bullshit that at
this point I really don't give a fuck about, complete with Jon
Marc's annoying Bonzi Buddy talking to us on his computer. I
skip ahead trying to find the promised music videos, and just as
I do the presentation grinds to a halt and takes me back to the
main menu. The FUCK? Okay, maybe they're hidden under
the bonus features. While the promised Nya "Be Alright" video
is missing, the General Pop "Bar None/Take a Ride" video is
here along with a photo gallery and a motorcycle stunt reel.
While the entire presentation is billed as being approximately
100 minutes, it was so tiresome it didn't take me nearly that
long to get through it. Now let it be said that ONE
I really have nothing against General Pop themselves, but the
format of this DVD is all wrong since all I get to know about them
are their quirks and annoying habits backstage as opposed to their
music, which really doesn't seem so bad; and TWO I still
don't get the "No Boundaries" concept at all but I get the feeling
the CD that comes with this DVD is really the more important part
of this presentation. The DVD by itself certainly doesn't stand
up and really isn't that pleasant to watch. Maybe if you were
as high as Billy Ray and General C, their antics would seem much
more amusing. As it is though, solely on the DVD portion of this
presentation, I can't recommend "No Boundaries" at all.
Content: 3 of 10
Layout: 5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 4 of 10
Originally posted: January 11, 2005