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DJ Quik - Visualism: The Art of Sound Into Vision Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 March 2003

DJ Quik Visualism: The Art Of Sound Into Vision

Fortress/Image Entertainment
MPAA rating: NR
starring: DJ Quik, Suga Free, Hi-C, Nate Dogg, AMG, El Debarge, Butch Cassidy and Chuckey
release year: 2003
film rating: One Star
sound/picture: Three Stars
reviewed by: Dan Macintosh

This Hip-Hop-umentry never lets you forget that DJ QUIK (real name David Blake) is from the streets of Compton. Heck, one of his biggest songs is even called “Born And Raised In Compton.” You can take the guy out of Compton, I guess, but you can never completely take the Compton out of a gangsta like QUIK. Please don_t be fooled by “DJ QUIK: Visualism”’s arts-y subtitle of “_The Art Of Sound Into Vision,” because this DVD has more to do with thugs, drugs and 40 ounce chugs, than with any kind of relevant music or culture.

The chapter listing includes a whopping 32 separate sections, but very few of these segments offer complete musical performances or insightful studio moments. At the program’s beginning, cameras follow QUIK to a show in Seattle, and toward the end, he’s seen at the House Of Blues in West Hollywood. But just as the viewer is about to settle into the visual vibe created by one of QUIK’s performances - which are always charismatic, by the way -- the program cuts to something unnecessary, like the rapper riding his motorcycle, or cutting up with friends out in a parking lot somewhere.

This DVD includes sections where QUIK is captured in the studio, but instead of providing the viewer with a window into this energetic musician’s work habits, we’re forced to listen to the artist babble mostly nonsense. For example, at one point he explains -- in all seriousness -- that sitting behind the board and producing music is just as fulfilling as fondling a woman. Elsewhere, QUIK is seen sitting at a piano,- which he admits he cannot even play very well,- attempting to explain the relationship between math and music. His primitive musical education is unintentionally funny and may remind viewers of Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel. Funnier still is how QUIK refers to El Debarge as a musical genius. I mean, is he serious?

The greatest sin of all here is that this program includes far too many pointless sections, which ultimately have nothing to do with the music. For example, there is a concert clip, which is little more than QUIK and his posse sharing a joint on stage. It’s titled “Smoking On Stage,” by the way, and adds up to a total waste of time. There’s another section of the program where QUIK and friends explain in detail how they get liquored up for a show.

Other superfluous moments along the way include footage from trips to Vegas and Reno, the aforementioned street bike and an interview with a very drunk white guy, which is listed as “White Boy w/ Tats.”

Another frustration with this program is the way QUIK’s musical associates -- who include HI-C, Suga Free and Chuckey – when interviewed end up talking only about themselves, and not the featured artist. If these sidekicks have such fascinating life stories, why don’t they make their own stinkin’ documentaries? There’s nothing wrong with giving one’s friends props, but viewers who pay good money for a DVD that’s supposed to be about DJ QUIK, deserve to watch a program that is focused entirely on him, and nobody else.

Far too many of this DVD’s segments should have been left on the cutting room floor, and the aforementioned self-aggrandizing interview portions highlight the utter directionlessness of this whole endeavor. “Visualism” has about as much vision as Dad with the family video camera making home movies. Rather than tell the story of DJ QUIK, and his subsequent rise to fame in the rap realm, this show just darts around from subject to subject, without any apparent rhyme or reason.

It’s hardly worth even analyzing the cinematography here, since there’s really none to speak of. Even the rare and brief concert segments are shot from only the back and the sides of the stage, giving very little perspective on a QUIK performance. Worse still are the many live shots focusing on big-chested women at the front of the stage. It’s as if our faithful cameraman was too distracted by the ladies to do his job right.

The most memorable part of this film is when QUIK takes a moment to remember his rotund associate, Mausberg. Included are tender sequences, both on and off stage, where QUIK pays tribute to his friend and fellow artist. Yet even this section comes up short. “Visualism” offers the perfect forum to explain a little bit about how Mausberg met his demise, yet it doesn’t even
attempt to visit his story. Was Mausberg gunned down Tupac style, or did he just pass away due to a weight-related illness? We’re never told. Not surprisingly, this is just one more hole in an already spotty production.

This package’s four music video inclusions offer a welcome breath of fresh air, as the viewer finally gets the chance to hear and see whole songs from beginning to end. Although none of these clips offer any conceptual breakthroughs, they nevertheless present accurate portraits of the ever-quick rapper in action. These visuals reveal how QUIK has obvious skills as an MC, which you might never learn from just watching this DVD’s main portion. Perhaps if QUIK’s people had been forced to watch episodes of VH1’s “Behind The Music,” they might have at least gotten a clue about how these productions should be done. For heaven’s sake, people, tell a story, show a performance or let us get to know something new about the artist! But whatever you do, don’t just throw together an endless montage of mostly unrelated video segments, and then try to call it a documentary.

DJ QUIK probably has a fascinating story just waiting to be told, but the world may not get to know it until we read his newspaper obituary, which is a deathly sad thought.

more details
sound format:
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Audio Commentary by DJ QUIK; Bonus Outtake Scenes; Full-Length Music Videos for Tonite, Born And Raised In Compton, Quik Is The Name and Trouble; Photo Gallery; Extended Hidden Interview
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