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[Outlawz] Outlawz :: Worldwide
Video: Fortress DVD

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Fortress Entertainment is back one mo' gen with a whole new hip-hop experience for that ass. Having more or less cornered the market for behind the scenes rap documentaries, the only thing left for Fortress to do is improve the formula and make the BEST videos possible.

The Outlawz' "Worldwide" DVD is a thus a uniquely beneficial experience for all involved. No other group in rap may be as well known and simultaneously as misunderstood as this quadro from California. Even their roots get twisted though, because these tall trees were pulled up from the East coast where their Don Killuminati was born. That's right, New Jersey in particular; and if that blows your whole concept of the East vs. West feud wide open take heed homey, we're only getting started.

The first thing that Young Noble, Edi Amin, Napoleon and Kastro want you to know when watching this movie is that even though they are part of the Tupac Shakur legacy (a lot of the group is in fact related to him by blood or marriage) they also stand on their own two. Though they've lost both their leader 'Pac, his God-brother Khadafi, and had a falling out with core member Fatal Hussein over the years, the adversity only served to make them stronger. Now they live on proud to represent Shakur by struggling to survive and turn tragedy into triumph.

Starting off with a behind the scenes look at the studio where they lay down a lot of their vocals (and drink and smoke weed of course) the movie moves on to individual biographies of the group members, told in their own words and by the other MC's. An intervening chapter about "Tha Biz" shows how the group does it independently with their own label Outlaw Recordz. As Edi Amin says himself, "Just being the type of individuals that we was, and being traint, by the nigga that we was traint by, we was like 'How can we turn this around man?'" By owning ALL of the master recordings to their own songs, that's how. Napoleon even makes the point you should take a record label advance on signing and open a business; treat it like a small business loan - and by doing so he was able to pay the recoup AND stay paid in full. Now that's some game shit, and since it's meant to be sold and not told you'll have to buy the video to learn the rest.

Each group member gets a chance to show their personal lives and their hobbies throughout. Noble fires heavy artillery at the shooting range, and takes a side-trip "around the way" to see his peoples from the old neighborhood in Jersey. Napoleon travels to Puerto Rico to get in touch with his hispanic roots, and gets surprisingly in depth about his faith in Allah -- even thugs pray to the East homey. Kastro proves to be a very charismatic figure, despite the fact he constantly resents the presence of a camera in his face. He also shows off his recently purchased home, "Tupac's first home" in his own words, and his plans to remodel it. "MTV Cribs" ain't got nothing on this ish - it's a Thug Life's version of "Home Improvement." Edi, possibly the most recognizable member due to his size and stature, actually shows himself to be a very down to earth family man - even taking time out to call his mom. He does give some cameo time to Jacob the Jeweler though when he goes to buy a NICE new watch.

If you still had it twisted about how they were all tied up in coastal beefs after the infamy of "Hit Em Up," make sure you watch the chapter on "New York." The Outlawz visit the BET studios to appear on Rap City, and then are invited to make cameos on the set of Fat Joe's new video. They even spend some time hanging out on the street corner with mix tape king Kay Slay, who gives out his trademark thug quips for all the fans. Everybody from Method Man to Masta Ace is shown throughout the whole movie giving daps and love to the Outlawz. Trust on this, the bullshit about them being at war with the coasts is NOW OFFICIALLY DEAD.

One of the nicest things about this DVD was how well it was organized. While some of the other Fortress DVD's have mingled music videos in and out of the mix of the main film, on this joint they wisely chose to seperate them out in the "Bonus Features" section along with some outtakes and a section of freestyles from their friends and fellow thugs. The recent "Worldwide" video is a welcome inclusion as are the mini-movies for "Thug Wit Me" and "Black Rain." The latter in particular may be the best four minutes you've never seen on MTV, but should have - it's so good it shouldn't be spoiled but you may want to watch it first before you get into the main Outlawz documentary.

If all of this material didn't already whet your appetite for the DVD, buyers will be pleased to discover an Outlawz "Bonus Music CD" on the inside when they take off the shrinkwrap. Between the excellent documentary in and of itself (possibly the most fascinating of the whole Fortress series save for Xzibit) and the music videos, the extra music makes this release a MUST HAVE for any fan of the 'Lawz and/or the West coast style/East coast born and raised "Thug Life" music in general. The movie even gives them a chance to reconcile their beefs with Fatal Hussein, who himself has a whole chapter of the DVD even though he's currently working outside the group - now that's just LOVE. If you weren't an Outlawz fan, you will be by the end of this movie - proving that 'Pac knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he named them the successors to his reign in hip-hop.

Content: 9 of 10 Fun Factor: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10

Originally posted: April 30, 2002
source: www.RapReviews.com

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