Only three weeks into the New Year, and already I’m doing another all-out MTV2 theme week. Blame it on the fuckers at MTV and VH1 (which, I swear, has been showing nothing but reruns of “Behind the Music” since the calendar changed over), plus the fact that I actually have a good video channel to tune into lately. But next week, I promise I’ll track down all the shitty new pop videos that are out right now – first on my list is that duet from Whitney Houston and George Michael – and, in the meantime, enjoy an assload of positive reviews and one amusing Gay Video of the Week nugget…


Beastie Boys – Shake Your Rump (1989)
      (**½)  Even though Paul’s Boutique is one of the Beasties’ absolute best works, you get the feeling it doesn’t really exist in their catalogue. That carries over to the little-seen videos, including “Shake Your Rump,” which was made on no budget and spends most of its running time on a building roof, filming the Beastie Boys clowning around. The whole thing is filmed through a wide iris, which means it’s like watching them through a peephole, and the only real variety that comes along is the occasional fade to color negative and camcorder shots of shit like the produce aisle and a cat spinning on a turntable. The video looks like it came from the early 1980s, but it does have its charms. I just kind of, you know, expected a little more from such a progressive album. –Andrew Hicks

Black Eyed Peas f/Macy Gray – Request Line (2001)
     (***)  Macy is two for two lately, playing backup singer and earth mother to a pair of my favorite hip-hop acts, Common and the Black Eyed Peas. She’s decked out in blue Afro, hip huggers and a kung-fu head scarf in “Request Line,” the third video from the bomb-ass album Bridging the Gap. Macy and the Peas spend the video in a psychedelic bachelor pad with a spinning dance floor, flashing neon and lots of Ikea catalogue shit. It’s about as perky an effort as you’re likely to see from either of them, probably because it’s directed by Joseph “Thong Sahn” Kahn, and the video cuts from room to room, sometimes lighting on party guests who sort of appear and disappear. Anyway, I’ll say what I said last time – Macy Gray should bag the VH1-ready pop ballads like “I Try” and “Again” and concentrate on pure funk and hip-hop. It suits her, and it brings out a joy and legitimacy the adult-contemporary crap doesn’t. RANDOM THOUGHT: When is Macy just going to go ahead and cover Prince’s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore”? –AH

Common f/Lauryn Hill – Retrospect For Life (1998)
     (***½)  Common, playing some guy named Rashid, is dead broke when his Erykah Badu-dressed girlfriend breaks the news that she’s swollen thick with child. (“Pregnant?” he shrieks. “You know I ain’t ready to have no shorty right now. Why you even comin’ to me with this?”) What follows is an emotion-filled confessional from a deadbeat dad, trying to explain exactly why he disappeared and seemingly never reappeared. One of the video’s best moments is a birthday party for the kid in which Common seems to show up, Lauryn Hill stares him down, then he fades from view. As the kid grows up from afar, we see similar shots – the whole video has a dreamlike quality to it, and I can certainly identify with the idea of having an apparition for a father. From the album One Day It’ll All Make Sense. –AH

Cypress Hill – How I Could Just Kill a Man (1991)
     (***)  In the beginning, there was weed. About six or eight thousand years later, there was Cypress Hill, proving that daily (and perhaps hourly) marijuana consumption doesn’t necessarily make you docile and brain-dead. So here is something you can’t understand, how these guys could just kill a man. Visually, you might expect a little something more from one of the most badass songs in hip-hop history, but the beauty of this low-budget shit is, these guys keep it real… they keep it hardcore. That means wandering the streets, enlisting cameos from the likes of Ice Cube and Q-Tip, and gathering all the spooky black-and-white and sepia-toned footage they can. Oh, and having everyone in the group wear Cypress Hill T-shirts merely for the free advertising. –AH

Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek – The Blast (2000)
     (***)  The first notes I wrote about this video were, “I have trouble listening to any rapper whose name I don’t have a chance in hell of pronouncing correctly.” Then Talib Kweli made a point in the first verse of “The Blast” to point out how to pronounce his name (“Any questions?”). So I could then just sit back and enjoy a well-constructed beat and elaborate, clever lyrics, not to mention a highly watchable video from director Little X that starts with Kweli and Hi-Tek chilling on a stoop and then puts them out on the street and dumps a shitload of rain on them. Rain that doesn’t seem to leave them the least bit wet. Altogether, a strong song-video package, and you probably won’t be seeing it much on MTV. –AH

Ludacris – Southern Hospitality (2001)
     (*½)  The obnoxious first single from Ludacris, “What’s Your Fanta-ta-SEEE,” is still entirely too reminiscent, having even spread its way to the upper reaches of Top 40 radio’s inevitable “Hot Five at 9” shows. Now here’s the follow-up, which is stripped of the former’s only appeal – its sexual sing-along quality. (If Ludacris thinks he’s going to have a nation of white youth calling out the phrase, “Drop bones on ’em,” ad nauseum, or any shit about 20-inch rims, he’s mistaken.) The video for “Southern Hospitality” is damn near impossible to get through, between its black-backdrop shots of the rhythmless Ludacris trying to dance and street shots of numerous other rhythmless individuals attempting to do the same. And let’s not forget the fried catfish held up for display. So what saves this video from nabbing a rating of one star or below? The brief sequence that has Ludacris, Afro teased out, inserted into the frame upside down, the camera following him down the street like everything’s normal. –AH

OutKast – Rosa Parks (1999)
     (***½)  The beauty of this little gig is I can learn from my mistakes. Say, a dismissive review from two years ago where I refer to OutKast as a “he” and declare that, without the blue screen effects and myriad costume changes, this video would be nothing. I guess I missed the point of “Rosa Parks,” like Parks herself, who sued Dre and Big Boi, I’d guess, over the lyric, “Everybody move to the back of the bus.” This is a party jam above everything else, spouting the kind of ego that really would send all comers to the back of the proverbial bus, and the video isn’t all blue screen. There’s an elaborate sequence with a demented-funky marching band prowling down the streets, a dance set to a “Fingertips”-style harmonica solo, and indoor, blue-tinted rave sequences. And, of course, the endless costume change, from the Mets jerseys to the catcher’s chest protector to the Native American ritual wear. All in all, the video for “Rosa Parks” is a total assault on the senses, and I missed the, uh, bus the first time around. The only statement from my original review I’ll still stand by is the following: “I like the drum beat; it’s like that submarine sound effect from the 1966 Batman movie. Anyone know what I’m talking about? You probably do if you’re as hopped up on opium as I am.” –AH

Philly’s Most Wanted – Cross the Border (2001)
     (**½)  I’m sure this will end up as one of Leon’s ghetto videos before too long, but I couldn’t resist commenting on it first. Philly’s Most Wanted, which consists of the members Mr. Man and Boobonic, here turns out one of the most socially reprehensible yet oddly appealing rap singles ever. “Cross the Border” is about the above pair sending their hotass girlfriends down to Mexico to round up shitloads of drugs for them – so, yeah, I can call it socially reprehensible, but I have to admit, it’s not a bad setup. These ghetto supermodels might even be springing for the drugs themselves, you never know. (Why not? These songs are all borne of fantasy and wishful thinking.) The video takes place at a Mexican-themed outdoor party and a blandly decorated airport, where gruff-looking federal agents attempt to track the drug flow. In the end, Mr. Man and Boobonic escape by sneaking their way through a luggage conveyor… and that’s basically when I realize this whole affair is done with the proper amount of humor. –AH

Timbaland and Magoo – Up Jumps Tha Boogie (1997)
     (**)  Producer Timbaland’s only foray into actual performance came with rapper Magoo on the album Welcome to Our World, which one of my friends practically begged me to buy him that Christmas. So, yeah, I’ve heard the majority of it, and it’s kind of like the Babyface principle – Timbaland saves his best material for the higher-profile artists who can take it to the top, like Aaliyah and Missy Elliott. Both, by the way, pay their cameo dues in the video for “Up Jumps Tha Boogie,” which is as hardcore as a video from director Billie Woodruff can be. Still, it has its visual flair, most of which comes from an obnoxious, roving spotlight that soaks everything it touches in shock-white. This is basement street party stuff, for the most part, and Elliott pops up twice. You can tell she’s not putting her all into it, though, because she’s not wearing any Hefty bags. –AH

2Pac – Do For Love (1997)
2Pac - Do For Love
     (**½)  Damn, this is the first I’ve seen of this video, which comes from that first sprawling, posthumous 2Pac double album no one bought. Instead of compiling old, tired clips of the Pac or filming a new video without him, “Do For Love” brings us animated 2Pacs both of the conventional, anime and stop-motion varieties. It’s fucked up, and it leads to all sorts of speculation. Will 2Pac pop a cap in the Road Runner’s ass? Will he force dat ho Olive Oyl to model a thong for him? Only the director’s cut could tell you for sure. The animation is a little crude and rough around the edges, but then, hey, so was 2Pac himself. Still, don’t try to look for any coherent theme here – the people who made the video seem more occupied with bringing us as many impressive transitions as possible than presenting anything linear. The video is worth watching, though, if just as a curiosity, but I have to wonder who decided it would be a good idea to sample “What You Won’t Do For Love.” (Yeah, yeah, muthafuckin’ Go West in tha house!”) –AH
  2Pac - Do For Love

Gay Video of the Week

Ricky Martin f/Christina Aguilera – Nobody Wants to Be Lonely Forever (2001)
     (*½)  Next week, this would simply be another video in the lineup, but I couldn’t wait any longer. After seeing this ungodly team-up twice on VH1 and several more times on MTV’s “Hot Zone,” I couldn’t save it for next week. But I never actually caught the title, so it’s been listed in my laptop as “We Can Be Gay Together” for the better part of two weeks. Not the actual title of the song, as it turns out. “Nobody Wants to Be Lonely Forever” is a mid-tempo track with only the slightest touch of Latin flavor (courtesy of the “Latin flavor” button on Martin’s producer’s Casio) and absolutely no charm to it. In fact, it’s a laborious listen, as Christina interprets the word “featuring” to mean endless Mariah vocal emoting. Have you noticed, though, that with each successive Christina Aguilera video, she shows off more and more midriff? The region has extended from the immediate couple inches above and below her navel to damn near two feet. It helps make up for the fact that she’s looking less and less human and more like something off the Mattel assembly lines. As for Martin, well, he’s certainly doing his hardest to revive the casual denim look above the waist. (Way to go, Michael Bolton, Jr.!) The video is simplistic and unappealing, with the two TRL icons singing from separate tastefully decorated locations and ending up in each other’s arms because, hey, they’ve found out they can be gay together. You can tell Ricky’s a little uncomfortable with Christina’s caress – he spends the whole time mumbling, “Just pretend it’s Enrique Iglesias, just pretend it’s Enrique Iglesias…” –AH

Leon's Ghetto-Ass Video of the Week

Project Pat f/ DJ Paul, Lil Chat, and Juicy J, Pookie, Ray Ray, and 'dem -- Chickenheads
     (*)  I knew it had to come soon. A song about some (bwok bwok) Chickenheads. The video is pretty damn horrible, with cars bouncing around on hydraulics and all kinds of hoochies representing the embodiement of Chickenheadedness. Hair, nails, clothes, the whole nine yards. The song itself is hilarious -- scary as hell female rapper Lil Chat and Project Pat goback and forth at each other:
     LIL' CHAT: Yeah you like my outfit / Don't even fake the deal / I thought you said you had your girl on the light bill
     PROJECT PAT: Always in my face / Talkin this and that / Girl i had to buy some rims for da Cadillac
     LC: You riding clean / But ya gas tank is on E / Be stepping out, ain't no descent shoes on ya feet
     PP: That's just the meter broke / Youn't know'cha talkin
bout / Anyway them new Jordans finna come out
     And so it goes. --Leon Bracey


Copyright 2001 Andrew Hicks