D4L: Exclusive DVD
Label: Asylum Records
Author: Tom Doggett
Nevermind whether you want to know about D4L, right now you don't really have a choice. "Laffy Taffy" has shattered legal download records recently, becoming the most unlikely and irritating hit that I could ever imagine. In case you cared, D4L stands for Down 4 Life, and the group hails from Atlanta, GA. I don't pretend to have heard their entire record, and based on the boggling success of "Laffy Taffy" and my subsequent suicidal tendencies, I don't really plan to either. I did, however, receive a spanking new copy of their "Exclusive" DVD, complete with a paper slip acting as the cover to the case.
The menu is the first sign of trouble. The first option is the "Start DVD Here!" icon, and there are two others entitled "Connections" and "Big Shit Poppin." On the right side, an advertisement lists the components of the DVD, including videos, interviews, "real talk," and the heavily anticipated D4L Comedy Jam. Not being able to contain my excitement, I fumble for the remote and get it "poppin."
The first thing you need to know, aside from the general uselessness of this DVD, is that the three sections overlap heavily, and the "Connections" and Big Shit Poppin" sections can be found included in the main DVD. Overall, there is nearly an hour of footage, taking place in four main environments. The first is a club where the group is performing, which makes for several scintillating shots of female backsides taking up the whole frame of the camera. Backstage of the performance is another setting, mostly serving as a showcase for their high roller status, complete with Hennessey and Grey Goose. A video shoot is another main location, where more scantily clad women can be seen dancing on cue to the music while the camera looks on. There is also a makeshift car lot in an empty parking area, with assorted expensive cars that are obviously intended to exhibit their immense success as musicians and the accompanying wealth. A couple of secondary sites are used for the film, including a "media" interview that is completely pointless. Other than that, they mostly just stand around goofing off and rapping along with their own songs.
The most perplexing inclusion is the D4L Comedy Jam, which mostly consists of D4L and their extended fam throwing around inside jokes, which would be hard to understand anyway because they constantly struggle with enunciation. Maybe I'm a bit jaded, but I can't imagine anyone laughing at this segment, and since it is exactly the same as the other scenes featuring them hanging out in front of a camera, the "Comedy Jam" label isn't exactly warranted. Seriously, ALL THEY DO in front of the camera is try to act cool and do the whole "album coming soon" thing. They seem so enamored with the prospect of their own DVD that they simply recall all the other rap DVDs they've seen and emulate them exactly. Occasionally they actually talk about something personal. When they do this, though, it is to show off tattoos or explain jokingly how their homie had to take a piece bone from his leg to repair his arm. I personally don't care, and I doubt anyone else will either. Even if you do, you'll have to wade through a sea of bullshit to find those moments.
The production values parallel those of their mega-hit appropriately. The footage isn't bad, but it appears rather grainy for a DVD. The menu (singular) is not well done, and all of the added graphics are poor. The club performance is not completely real; it contains the actual music dubbed over the footage, cutting back and forth randomly between the audio from the club and the recorded music. The DVD skips a bit, and the when it's not skipping the pixels scramble at infrequent intervals. The packaging is unprofessional, and the content reflects this. At one point, they even spell comedy as "comady." I don't even know what to sey.
These cats are straight delusional. The "rare footage" icon that flashes along the bottom only signals that what is to come will be even more meaningless. One especially painful on-stage interview features a speech about how they are trying to teach the children positive values. WOW. This is a ridiculous thought to begin with, but another section of the film shows a group of elementary-age girls imitating their role models, dancing around in the same manner as the other women in the DVD. This is very offensive in light of their idiotic thoughts about improving the community, and proves that they cannot be respected as musical artists.
Because of the poor packaging, I think it's safe to assume that you won't be catching this DVD in Best Buy. In fact, I don't really know where one might go about finding it. So my advice to you is: don't bother. If you're a true fan of D4L, you'll hate me for this review, seek it out anyway, and still be disappointed at its overall uselessness. I've been operating under the safe assumption that you aren't.
Content: 2 of 10
Layout: 2 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 2 of 10
Originally posted: January 10, 2006