8Ball and MJG

Living Legends: Chopped & Screwed

Bad Boy Entertainment/Swisha House Records

8Ball and MJG, a better-than-mediocre rap group, dropped
Living Legends this past spring. It was their first release
on Bad Boy Entertainment, a less-than-mediocre rap label. Although
Living Legends was not up to par with their non-Bad Boy
material, it is probably one of the better releases that Bad Boy
has had to offer since Black Rob’s Life Story
(2000).

With the Texas-originated technique developed by the late DJ
Screw, Michael “5000” Watts re-releases this album,
Chopped and Screwed. Yet, that is exactly what he does:
screws up this album. Watts makes a would-be average album sound
terrible. The term “chopped and screwed” means that a
DJ slows down the song, then chops it up so that some parts are
repeated. There needed to be more DJ scratches or at least
something that says “Yes, this was done by a skilled
DJ” instead of “Oh no, this was done by my 14-year-old
child on the computer.”

The song “Shot Off,” featuring Ludacris, is one of
the few tracks that has DJ scratches and that actually sounds
almost decent. The advantage of having this song slowed down is to
hear Ludacris rhyme in slow motion. His delivery makes one
recognize how underrated he is as an emcee.

Conclusion: Do not buy this album.

Solution: Cop the un-butchered version of Living
Legends
.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

— Cyril Cordor

 

Kill Bill: Vol. 2

Miramax

Despite the loose ends left by the first half of Quentin
Tarantino’s opus “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” the film
seemed almost complete. Viewers witnessed brutal, bloody and bad
ass acts of violence as The Bride (Uma Thurman), AKA Beatrix Kiddo,
waged vengeance on the posse of sword-wielding assassins who ruined
her life. But in the film’s second half, Tarantino fills in
the specifics of Beatrix’s full story with detail that can
try one’s patience.

When watching “Vol. 2” on a television or a computer
screen, the first half hour or so might seem to lag. When the
noir-esque black and white frames aren’t spread across a huge
screen, one can forget the fast paced drama and action of what
happened after.

Tarantino recovers with gorgeous color shots of the Texas
wastelands. Now the tension Tarantino creates with B&W film is
enthralling: close-ups of Beatrix’s bloody, suffering face
fills even a small, flat laptop screen. The sheer terror and
still-boiling anger Beatrix feels comes through beautifully.

Sound is sharp and the picture clear, but the special features
— at least for such a successful epic — seem a little
skimpy. Widescreen format is a given for action films, and film
premiere footage would be a yawn for anyone who’s not a
fanatic. A short featuring behind-the-scenes footage, as well as a
deleted scene, is also included. With any luck, a boxed set with
both films and better, extra-special extras will be released in the
next few years — hopefully before the rumored “Vol.
3” is released in 15 years.

— Alexandra Jones

Movie: 5 out of 5 stars.

Picture/Sound: 4 out of 5 stars.

Extras: 3 out of 5 stars.

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