Periodically, Creative Loafing will take a look at some of these notable new releases, whether released with an audio CD or separately. Following is a roundup of some recent ones that have crossed our desks.
Rapper 50 Cent is everywhere -- on the cover of Rolling Stone, MTV, The New York Times, and every magazine from Teen Beat to Cat Fancy. Why? He's a rapper with a rep, has been shot nine times, and was recently signed by Eminem. As a rapper? Well, he's pretty good, but nothing like Biggie Smalls or Tupac Shakur, both of whom managed to balance the outward bloodletting of urban warfare with the inner bloodletting of noticeable passion and beliefs. But who cares, right? He's authentic! He's been shot nine times! As such, the Interscope folks wisely packaged 50's new CD, Get Rich Or Die Tryin', with a DVD short, the better to introduce the bullet-ridden rapper to the world at large. The movie begins with scenes of guns being loaded and fired, interspersed with scenes showing 50 on stage, at photo shoots, and at his grandmother's house (there's also a sensitive moment where 50 points to the New York skyline, showing the camera where the World Trade Center towers used to be "before those crazy niggas" came through). Of course, I realize the entire reason for the DVD is to further 50's legend; however, the whole thing conspires to make 50, a rapper with talent, look like little more than a materialistic and misogynistic numbskull. At one point in the movie, various folks offer up huzzahs to the breakthrough rapper -- one of whom is Jam Master Jay, the Run-DMC DJ who was recently murdered, execution-style, some say due to his relationship with 50. Perhaps 50 should watch his own DVD a few times. Getting hit nine times with bullets and surviving is rather remarkable. It's also rather lucky, and as we all know, luck runs both ways.The special edition version of the new Primal Scream CD Evil Heat contains a DVD with two of the band's videos, "Miss Lucifer" and "Autobahn 66," as well as a five-song live concert excerpt. Along with Radiohead, Primal Scream have always been at the forefront of providing thought-provoking visuals with their music, so the free addition is a natural. The live segment of the DVD is more for hardcore fans -- lead singer Bobby Gillespie, while full of panache, hardly moves an inch throughout the whole set.Coming on like a mutant mix of Atari Teenage Riot and At the Drive-In are The Blood Brothers, who have released a new DVD, Jungle Rules Live, at the same time as their excellent Burn Piano Island, Burn (the DVD also contains songs from their independently released discs This Adultery Is Ripe and March on Electric Children). Like 50 Cent, the band has a look; unlike 50, their look consists of spinning around the stage like a bunch of hyenas on speed, screaming surrealistic poetry to sheet-metal guitars. There's a solid 40 minutes of footage here, however, so folks would be advised to shoo any impressionables or small animals out of the room before throwing this bad boy on. The package also includes three bonus "audio only" tracks for those too lazy to buy the CDs.While not my cup of tea (or coffee, or anything else), the boys in Jump, Little Children have thrown their hat in the DVD ring with Live at the Music Farm, which was partially shot in Charleston, SC. The fellows have added a neat gimmick to the mix, though. During the course of the hour-and-a-half concert, each band member tries to prove that he is, to quote the packaging, "the best and most important member of JLC." At the end of the concert, the viewer gets to vote on his or her favorite, with a different outcome determined by the decision. Also included is a short documentary, which is interesting if you like to see people fall down while wearing skis (and who doesn't?).We end our inaugural DVD roundup with the best of the lot: Epitaph's new Punk-O-Rama: The Videos (Volume 1). Epitaph, for better or worse, was a forerunner in bringing "punk" to the masses, mostly via artists such as Rancid, Pennywise, Bad Religion and NOFX (yes, you have these folks to thank for the Good Charlotte boys). Almost every track here is a winner, and it's a nice nostalgia trip for those relatively innocent days of the early 90s. You get 22(!) full videos as part of the package, including the song that helped start it all, Rancid's "Salvation." Also included is a neat documentary, The Epitaph Story, as well as live footage of the Bouncing Souls, a Pennywise video shoot, and a live Bad Religion concert. All this for under $20? Now that's punk rock.