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May 31st, 2003

The Four Elements on DVD

The four elements of hip-hop are emceeing, DJing, b-boying, and graffiti. If you’ve ever wanted to educate yourself about the four elements, there’s never been a better time than now because all four elements are represented well on DVD…

B-Boying: The Freshest Kids takes a look at b-boying (breaking) by examining its history (dating back to the Lindy Hop and early black jazz dancers!), it’s commercial turn in the 80s, and it resurgence in the late 90s. There’s lots of great footage from past and present and Quincy Jones III (“QD3”) executive produced it. My favorite scene is from the third (?) B-Boy Summit, when the police came and started arresting people and being a general pain in the ass. Crazy Legs did a short routine in front of the police and finished by flicking them off and grabbing his crotch. Definitely not one to miss.

DJing: Scratch is the popular documentary from last year released on an excellent 2-disc special edition DVD with loads of extras. Doug Pray looks at turntablism as an art and culture in and of itself as well as part of the larger picture of hip-hop culture. There’s an excellent scene with DJ Shadow in the secret basement of a record store, surrounded by records, talking about the importance of “digging.” I got chills.

Grafitti: The classic Style Wars documentary has finally reached DVD in an astounding two-disc special edition with an unbelievable amount of extras. This legendary early-80s look at grafitti art features interviews with everyone from Mayor Ed Koch (who comes off looking like a total jackass) to grafitti legends, b-boys, and emcees.

Emceeing: Wild Style isn’t exactly dedicated to just emceeing, rather it pulls together all four elements perfectly in what is still the best hip-hop movie of all time. Starring Fab 5 Freddy and grafitti legend Pink, there are loads of familiar vocal samples here as well as outstanding music (courtesy of Fab 5), grafitti art (courtesy of Dondi, Zephyr, and Daze), and freestyle battles (with too many old schoolers to mention). One of my many favorite scenes in this one features Fab 5 Freddy sitting in Grandmaster Flash’s apartment, watching him DJ in his kitchen.

So, grab your Kangol and dookey rope chains and settle in for a series of old school fun with these hip-hop flicks representing the four elements.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

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