Wutang (Wu-Tang) Clan: Music Videos on DVD
Label: Music Videos Anaheim, CA
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Five years ago when Loud Records was still around and actually seemed pretty relevant in my day to day life thanks to a roster that included everyone from Tha Alkaholiks to the X-Ecutioners, I hit a Wherehouse Records in Omaha (that sadly is long since closed) and found an unexpected item in their DVD section: "Wu-Tang Clan - The W, Volume 1." Loud packaged and promoted this release as a "Deluxe DVD Video Single" and offered it for the relatively modest price of $7.99. The decision to purchase it was easy, and I was well rewarded with high quality copies of the videos for "Protect Ya Neck" as well as "Gravel Pit" and a bonus video that had never aired on TV: "Careful (Click, Click)." I had high hopes for a whole series of similar "Deluxe DVD Video Singles" from Loud, but they never seemed to materialize and eventually the label folded and disappeared almost entirely off the map. The Loud website still exists though as a front for Columbia/Sony Music.
The odds of the Clan reuniting to release another album (sans ODB R.I.P.) seem to get slimmer with every passing year, as the former members pursue their own ventures. The closest we've gotten is 2004's "Disciples of the 36 Chambers," which was accompanied by similarly titled DVD release. This was another shot of Wu-Tang heroin in the arm, but not near enough to satisfy a junkie with a habit running over 10 years. Somebody needed to make good on the unfulfilled promise of "The W, Volume 1" and release all of the Wu classics. Every chamber from Volume 1 to Volume 36, for that pure unadulterated fix. It turns out a Meijer in Michigan had the hook-up that neither Loud nor Wherehouse could provide. With "Music Videos on DVD" I thought my prayers had been answered. From a casual glance at the box it appeared to be 13 of the best Wu videos on one release, including some dope joints from the solo projects. Sold!
Something seemed sketchy about the DVD after purchasing it. The cheesy block letter title across the front and back was my first concern. On closer examination I realized they didn't hyphenate between "Wu" and "Tang" as is standard on all official Clan releases. There also seemed to be an inordinate amount of references to our neighbors to the North including an "R" rating label with a maple leaf on it and the words "Printed in Canada" located next to the bar code on the back cover in small print. Last but not least was the description of the producer of this release as "(C) 2005 Music Videos Anaheim, CA." One might assume the city was supposed to be a seperate item, but it isn't billed that way and "Music Videos" by itself would probably cause legal problems since there's already a well-established company named Music Video Distributors, or MVD for short. One can presume the actual name is "Music Videos Company of Anaheim, California" but you can look it up any way you like on Google - you won't find them. There's certainly no URL anywhere on or inside this DVD that would clarify matters.
Insert disc, press play. The program jumps immediately to the main menu - a rarity these days when most home video purchases seem to have 20 commercials you have to skip through and two or three FBI and copyright warnings you can't. It's also very suspicious - it smacks of something you'd get either by making a DVD with your computer or using a home DVD recorder to grab a program off Tivo and save so you don't clog up the hard drive. The menu itself has the exact same picture of the Clan from the cover of the disc, and yet another block title where Wu-Tang is unhyphenated. There are two options on the menu: "Play Feature" and "Song Selection." That's it. It's a static menu which never refreshes, which means that if you leave it on without making a choice it's about as exciting as staring at a blank notepad for hours on end. That didn't even pass muster in 2001, let alone in the here and now five years later.
"Play Feature" gives you all of the videos on this disc in one sitting, although they aren't in the order listed on the back cover. In fact they're not in any discernable order whatsoever. Starting out with "Method Man" and "C.R.E.A.M." makes sense, although what follows jumps all over the place and in the process treats chronology like a redheaded stepchild. We jump straight to 2000's "Gravel Pit," back to 1993 again with "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F' Wit," then back to the 21st century again for "The Jump Off." It gets worse than the fact they're all out of order though, which can be likened to using the random shuffle function on your iPod. It's much more irritating that they insert the solo artist videos randomly into the order. Given the track listing on the back is totally unhelpful, the least they could have done was group the actual Clan videos together, and put the solo tracks as additional chapters at the end. I also find the choice of Cappadonna's "Super Model" highly questionable. Was it really more relevant than Ghostface's "Motherless Child" (not included), Inspectah Deck's "Word on the Street" (not included) or Method Man's "Bring the Pain" video? Not only are all three much better songs, they are much better videos to represent Wu solo projects. This isn't even about whether you like Cap as a rap artist or not - it's just a very boring and uncreative that just has a bunch of honeydips shaking their assets at 'Donna and his friends. Whoop-dee-shit.
This DVD already has a lot of strikes against it - an ambiguous release that seems bootleg, a boring opening menu, and a completely unfathomable selection in terms of both the order and the content. The worst part though is simply the quality itself. If you've ever dubbed off a ten-year old tape of "Yo!" or "Rap City" to DVD, you've got at least a 50/50 chance of it being more crisp and clear than what's offered here even if you recycled the tape four of five times before recording it and watched it a dozen times after. Several of the offerings are completely inexcusable. The "Method Man" video was a little on the gritty and blurry side owing to Wu-Tang's style at the time, but nowhere near as gutter as this DVD's presentation. The colors are out of whack and the footage itself has several censored scenes which I know FOR SURE are not in the personal copy I owned before this release. This suggests they didn't have access to the original source material in compiling the release, which is only confirmed by watching the "Gravel Pit" video. Even without putting in "The W, Volume 1" to compare the two it's easy to see the difference simply based on the black letterbox across the top and bottom JUMPING UP AND DOWN while the video plays. Eventually this is corrected by adding in an extra scanline which is off color compared to the rest of the picture. If you're watching this DVD on a widescreen HDTV, it looks positively hideous. "The Jump Off" has the same problem. If you want to see these videos the right way, find a used copy of "The W, Volume 1" instead.
There's no way anyone in the Wu-Tang Clan would have accepted the quality level found on "Music Videos on DVD" if they put out this video themselves - it's totally fucking unacceptable. In fact that pretty accurately describes everything else about this project from top to bottom. This is a DVD that surely needs to be done for all the Wu junkies out there in the world, but not this poorly. If done properly all of these videos would be taken from the original source, digitally remastered, and mixed into Dolby 5.1 stereo sound. That's not all. As long as a Wu fan is dreaming, let's make this a three-disc set. The first disc would be ALL of the Wu's group videos, in chronological order, from start to finish. The second disc would be the best of the best from the solo shit along with some rarely seen videos from soundtracks and side projects like "America" and "Wu-Wear: The Garment Renaissance." The third disc would be interviews, concert footage, and a tribute to the late great ODB. That's the kind of shit a motherfuckin' Wu junkie is REALLY fiending for. What you'll get with "Music Videos on DVD" is nowhere near close. You're not getting a pure cut here - in fact there's barely enough to get high off of. The buzz will be ruined over and over again as you ask yourself the obvious questions, like why for RZA videos they chose "La Rhumba" and not "Tragedy" or "Holocaust (Silkworm)" instead. Please note that the low rating says nothing about the Wu themselves, because even without the extra features and a three-disc set this could have been 8 out of 10 or more were the quality not so poor and sloppy. Even if it takes five more years for them to do it, we're all far better off waiting for Wu to do it the right way. This one is not recommended.
Content: 3 of 10
Layout: 0 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 1.5 of 10
Originally posted: February 14, 2006