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Art of 16 Bars, The (DVD Review)

19 Mar, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Art of 16 Bars

Prebook 3/21/06; Street 5/2/06
$19.99 DVD
Rated ‘R' for explicit language.

In the early days of hip-hop, the MC (Master of Ceremonies) was meant to introduce the DJ at block parties and clubs, but he or she quickly became a fixture, spinning rhymes to the beat and becoming the center of attention.

The content and technique of “spittin’ those rhymes is what helps The Art of 16 Bars (musical notation of a rap song) transcend the usual glorification of rap music, culture and its players. The film underscores the unique creativity, skill and business savvy required for success.

Digital Underground's Shock G describes himself as “a fool in zebra print, the goer of great places, the breather of delicious air, the doer of beautiful women. Him. He. I. Who gets the most high. On and off stage rages supreme lunatic in art of using enhanced social (activity) with groove for mega party (squared) plus music equals digital underground, and I am gatekeeper to what you all hold the key.”

The rapper has to master many skills, including the ability to write, work in the studio and appear on stage. But just as important is a rapper's persona and the ubiquitous disdain all have for those who “bite” (steal) lyrics.

Killer Mike recalled the verbal spar that earned his moniker: “It was reflective of what I did that night when I slain over seven motherf***ers because I was more tenacious, I was more hungry than them. I wanted to make the name I earned was the name people heard and people saw.”

Narrator Method Man was more succinct: “Don't bite my s*** and you be ah-ight.”

Selling Points: This cinematic doc outlines the ABCs of rap without patronizing the uninitiated.

What's on DVD?
• Featurettes with Kanye West, Twista and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien on making beats and raps
• Featurette on “making it” in the rap industry
• Tour of major labels

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