Pitch Control: Mixtape Volume III
Label: REL Entertainment
Author: Guido Stern
The mixtape DVD is an intriguing medium and one that I'm not quite convinced has a place in hip-hop. For one, people generally don't want to sit down and listen to an entire 90-minute tape while also watching countless videos and interviews. If I'm not listening to music in my car or while multi-tasking (surfing the internet, working out), I am generally relaxing and sitting back to take in the sound, all too passive to bother with video.
Another problem is that hip-hop music videos are largely tedious in the first place. For every interesting Kanye West or Jay-Z video, there are a hundred that look entirely the same, money flashing and female exploitation abound. The Roots' video for "What They Do," directed by Charles Stone III, was ostensibly the perfect kiss of death to the million-dollar video, pointedly satirizing the phony, materialistic tropes of the genre. Instead, it seems almost like a blueprint for everything that's come since; while "Pitch Control Volume 3" doesn't contain enough rump shaking to warrant the hilarious butt cramp of that video, the sheer monotony of cuts between money being thrown around and nice cars has me ready to forsake rap videos as a whole. Many of the videos are clearly shot in the same day on the same set, and the rapid-fire cutting that tries to keep up with the beat would be more enjoyable if simply presented as sparsely edited concert footage.
The music itself is really the only element that lends any value to the DVD, which is of course a contradiction—why buy the DVD when you can get a CD for less dough? Houston stalwart Trae is featured throughout the majority of the DVD's first half hour, with videos for some of his better songs ("Coast 2 Coast" and "Million Bucks") as well as some throwaways. Lil Wayne makes an early appearance on "Screwed Up," where the limit of directorial imagination is immediately made known through the use of corny animated superimpositions to go along with the lyrics. The middle section of the disc is basically one extended longueur, featuring mostly lesser known artists and a plethora of verbose interviews that fail to convey much beyond DJ Screw's immense influence and how trill it is to have big chains and candy painted whips.
Near the end of "Pitch Control" UGK swoop in out of nowhere to inject a bit of vivacity and provide the best music by far (classics like "Diamonds & Wood" and "It's Supposed to Bubble," as "International Players Anthem" sans OutKast), but beyond some stirring documentary footage of Pimp C, the videography is useless. If the concept of a mixtape DVD has potential, "Pitch Control Volume 3" is a convincing argument for the medium's limitations and contradictions.
Postscript: There are five easter eggs that can be accessed by pressing enter during different parts of the DVD. If this is not explained in the commercial edition of the DVD I can't imagine how many people would figure this out.
Content: 3 of 10
Filming: 2 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 2.5 of 10
Originally posted: February 9, 2010