Monday, May 22, 2006

Busta Rhymes - I Love My Chick (2006)

** (of four)

Busta and Gabrielle Union play Mr. and Mrs. Smith, an upscale couple first seen undergoing a marriage counseling session. During which they insist they have no problem getting along. No fighting. But, very much like the 2005 Brangelina movie of the same name, the Smiths are on different sides of the law, and the video (directed by Busta with Benny Boom) delights in showing the pair locked in silly-ass forms of combat. None of it is to be taken seriously, and none of it's particularly funny, so mainly we're on overfamiliar blockbuster turf. High-budget eye candy without much inspiration to back it up.

Busta, dressed in camouflage, rolls in on some kind of off-road dune buggy while Gabrielle is hanging out in her desert Unabomber shack. Busta proceeds to blow that up with a bazooka, and back in civilization, she retaliates by running him over with an SUV. Let's see, Gabrielle also chases Busta around the living room while wielding a sword, and he throws sofa cushions at her. Then they make out wildly and assure coy, curious neighbor Dr. Dre that everything's fine at home, just before the mansion is blown to bits by the feds.

There's no "To Be Continued" title card superimposed at the end, but you can be sure that, if Brad and Angelina make a Mr. and Mrs. Smith 2, Busta will make an "I Still Love My Chick" video. And producer Will.I.Am will put together another beat that apes The Neptunes, with him singing the bridge and everything.

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy (2006)

***1/2 (of four)

As I professed in a review about a month ago, I'm a huge Cee-Lo fan. I also loved the Danger Mouse Grey Album bootleg, so to have the two team up as Gnarls Barkley - well, shit, I'm all ears. The leadoff single, "Crazy," is a breezy, ethereal piece of electronic soul you can sing along to like a kid and still respect like an adult. I'm willing to forgive the dumbass band name and maybe even buy the album. In a store, like we used to do.

The "Crazy" video, from director Robert Hales, perfectly suits the transient, otherworldly feel of the song. It's sparse and involved at the same time, a series of symmetrical, moving ink blot images on a white backdrop. Most feature a pair of Cee-Los singing the lyrics in profile while splotches of ink morph into varying abstract images. Danger Mouse, looking like Matisyahu's swarthier older brother, cameos from time to time, as do cartoon beetles, spiders and birds. Use of color is judicious and sparing, and the entire affair is guaranteed to blow your mind in a completely harmless way.

Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone - Ridin' (2006)

**1/2 (of four)

Chamillionaire has one ass-dumb song in "Ridin'," but I dare you to listen to it once and not walk around the rest of the day with its chorus on a repeat loop in your head. Having just watched the video, I'm in for about ten more hours of Trynna Catch Me Ridin' Dirty Trynna Catch Me Ridin' Dirty Trynna Catch Me Ridin' Dirty Trynna Catch Me Ridin' Dirty Trynna Catch Me Ridin' Dirty Trynna Catch Me Ridin' Dirty Trynna Catch Me Ridin' Dirty. It's a good thing I'm not in school anymore.

"Ridin'" is about that quintessential element of the black American experience known as Being Pulled Over All The Time For No Goddamn Reason. I live in an area that's low on crime and high on police staff, and it's practically a guarantee that if your skin's darker than Burnt Sienna in the Crayola box, you'll be late to work about twice a week while Officer Scraps from the K-9 unit is sniffing out your car. And Chamillionaire, with his pimped-out ride, tilted baseball cap, black skullcap and dog collar bracelets - not to mention, the chorus of this song is blasting out of his car speakers at full volume ALL THE TIME - makes a sweet target for John Q. Law.

John Q. is played in this video by Deebo, so you know he's a dirty cop. He chases some anonymous posse member on foot, pulls over Chamillionaire and then stakes out his warehouse, which is part chop shop, part pawn shop, part nightclub and part hair salon. All I know is, I've never seen a rap video booty dancer change the oil on a stolen car before. That's got to at least be a misdemeanor. But wait: Chamillionaire sends Deebo packing by presenting a permit for the giant warehouse, which is official headquarters of his Chamillitary. Yes, you heard me right. Chamillitary.

Chair Force
Chanational Guard

Poison - Something to Believe In (1990)

**1/2 (of four)

Six or seven years ago, around the time of my college graduation, "Something to Believe In" and Poison in general were guilty pleasures of the tallest order. This existentialist power ballad came into my life at a personal crossroads and loss of faith, but I viewed the entire affair (that is to say, my existence and this Poison track) with tongue firmly in cheek. Yes, it was with full, knowing irony that I waved my fucking lighter from Row DD of the Riverport Ampitheater while half-drunkenly singing along on a warm June night in 1999.

When you think about it, it's kind of appropriate that "Something to Believe In" was Poison's last big radio hit. Within months, the Seattle revolution would blow through and leave Bret Michaels & Co. wondering why God had forsaken them in favor of flannel. Michaels is one somber, big-haired bastard in this video, too - even his giant Axl Rose headband is a funereal shade of black. He, C.C. Deville and the other guys act as grown up as one can while wielding bright blue guitars and wearing red paisley berets on a black soundstage.

Meantime, the uncredited director cuts in lots of moody black-and-white shots of cemeteries; homeless folk; psychotic Vietnam vets who resemble Bob Seger, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, respectively; Evil Hollywood; and, my favorite, the grinning visage of the deposed Reverend Jim Bakker. As you know if you happened to watch the Poison "Behind the Music," Bret Michaels was a charter member of the PTL Club - he was as disappointed as anyone to find out he could no longer ride the body slides at the Heritage USA theme park.