Z-Ro: Z-Ro Vision
Label: KOTG Ent./REL Entertainment/Rap-A-Lot 4 Life
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Joseph W. McVey will tell you he's never "made it gold or made it platinum" but if ever a man
existed to prove chart success != talent level then Z-Ro is certainly the man. The Houston, TX
rapper has been one of the most consistantly high-rated Southern MC's on RapReviews.com, and his
"I'm Still Livin" release even broke through to the
coveted Nines status. Even though he professes to need nothing more
from life than "a whole lot of leave me alone" there's some part of Mr. McVey that just can't
resist singing and flowing to fat beats, putting out records that are as triumphant as they are
tragic. A large part of the reason Z-Ro is not better known outside of his native Texas is due
to his constant struggles with the law. It's been reputed that several of his many albums (over
ten in under ten years) were recorded in a week or less to be mixed and mastered for release while
he was doing another prison bid. If Z-Ro could keep from getting twisted up with the law he'd
be able to promote these albums effectively on more than a local level.
"Z-Ro Vision" is both an answer to this dilemma and further evidence he is trapped up by the
circumstances he's living in. This DVD was released with no fanfare and little warning back in
May of this year, right around the same time his latest album "Power"
hit stores. The timing should have been helpful to both, but as absurd as this seems this writer
was not even aware such a DVD existed until finding it AT RANDOM at the record
store last week. I wish Rap-A-Lot Records had a mailing list or e-mail updates - hell I wish they
serviced the website (Lord knows we've reviewed enough of their albums at our own expense over
the years). They're not really to blame though - it's hard as hell to promote an album or DVD
for publicity purposes if the star of the release is somewhere between jail or parole and quite
possibly on house arrest. As far as I'm aware he's still behind bars right now - the last bit
of info I have from Isiah Carey's blog is that he was released from Orange County Jail but that was simply to
transfer him to a state prison. The DVD itself offers little to contradict this notion as the
very first footage we see of Z-Ro is dated by the man himself as being from December 25th, 2005.
Using a handheld camera pointed at his face Z-Ro tells us he isn't really feeling any Christmas
spirit because his girlfriend just dumped him. Shit if it ain't one thing for Z-Ro, it's another.
Joseph McVey can't catch a break for shit.
As the formal introductions get underway we're told the video is shot by "Z-Ro, REL and friends"
and we get some rapid fire shots of Z-Ro's candy and chrome, plus Z-Ro performing "What's My Name"
at a club in Houston. The presentation is interesting as we see the footage as it happened but
it's overdubbed with the album version of the song, but the two are synced up very well. Shortly
after we get the exact opposite - Z-Ro performs his part of "Get Throwed" live in Needville, Texas
but the audio is synced up with the footage of Bun B's music video. I got to give props for the
creativity here mixing shit up. At this point we've already gone rapid fire through five chapters
to "In My City" and we're back to Z-Ro performing live, and this time the song switches back and
forth from the album version to the rap on stage. Next we see Ro and his friend Lil' Sam watching
a Roy Jones Jr. fight sitting in the car. They're laughing and happy, showing off big stacks of
20's wrapped in dollar bands.
This DVD hits in very rapid fire fashion as the entire presentation is just over sixty-three
minutes. There's some very comedic elements throughout, including Z-Ro filming a group of white
girls who love his music. One of their friends doesn't know what's going on or who the guy with
the camera is, causing the blonde to tell her "This is fucking Z-Ro bitch!" Words just don't
do this justice. It's very fitting that the DVD is titled "Z-Ro Vision" as it's largely a look
through his eyes, seeing the things he'd see, meeting the people that he'd meet. The night
vision of Z-Ro looking into the camera link the footage together nicely. This is one-third
live concert video, one-third narrative on the fucked up situations in Ro's life, and one-third
just hanging out with the homeboys having a good time. If you were expecting to see a bunch of
Z-Ro music videos you'd probably be dissapointed. If you wanted to see uncut footage of drugs sitting
on a table just waiting to be rolled up and smoked up, you're in the right place.
One could say "Joseph W. McVey, why don't you leave that weed and syrup alone, don't you know the
cops are gonna roll you again?" He'd probably say "Fuck you they'll find a reason anyway - I might as
well live it up and enjoy my time outside the pen while I can." Z-Ro does appear to be
enjoying his life and it's fun to go along for the ride, but some full length videos would have
been a nice addition. I enjoy the clip of the rarely seen "Nolia Clap" remix but why not the
whole thing? Editing decisions like this really confuse the hell out of me. Aside from being shorter
than one would expect looking at the back cover (it's one thing to list 35 chapters, it's another
for them to all be two minutes or less) the video is a fair account of Z-Ro's life before going
in for his latest bid. It's the good and the bad, the joy and the pain, given to you as real as
can be just the way Z-Ro sees it. One telling thing about this video is how many times an R.I.P.
for one of Ro's friends is shown, including Southern legends like DJ Screw, Fat Pat and H.A.W.K.
At the end of the day it would be nice to see the promised "Volume 2" of Z-Ro Vision, as opposed
to seeing someone else's "Vision" when Z-Ro becomes another statistic due to being caught up in
the street life.
Content: 7.5 of 10
Layout: 5.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: September 25, 2007