Various Artists: Live From Da Crib [DVD]
Rappers shout, crowd members fight, and through it all Teddy T hosts like a man possessed... this is like Christmas in February.
DJ Khaled must have some amazing birthdays. Live From Da Crib consists of various live performances from his birthday bash in Miami, and he snares quite an impressive guest list: Cam'Ron shows up, Fat Joe shows up, Busta Rhymes shows up, Swizz Beatz shows up. Juelz Santana shows up, Jim Jones shows up, Bounty Killa shows up, and even Diddy shows up to finish things nicely with "Pass the Courvoisier". Khaled is evidently a popular man, and I'm going to have to get him to plan my birthday party next year.
Interspersed with the live performances are a few random music videos and some clips of the host, radio personality Teddy T. These host wraps consist mostly of Teddy T driving through the city, at night, talking into a camera and spending a disconcertingly low percentage of his time looking at the road. He sits sideways, bobbing up and down (at points even shouting "I'm sitting sideways! I'm sitting sideways!"), looking anywhere but the road and saying "live from da crib" and "temple edition" a lot.
As for the actual live performances themselves, the sound and video quality are nothing much to write home about: the performances appear to have been recorded with a standard hand camcorder and not much else. The camera bounces and swerves intermittently as well, home-video-style, and when it breaks off to record things other than the stage -- a caption appears to inform us when a fight is breaking out in the crowd -- the camera lurches sickeningly from one dark mass of shadows to another, leaving the fight itself barely recognizable as such without the caption. At other points, the sound quality (or lack of it) renders the words damn near indecipherable, which might not be a bad thing when the hosts start to talk.
All of this adds to the central failing of Live From Da Crib, which is that it for the most part fails to convey the energy of the live performances. This isn't a small thing to ask, that's true, but Live From Da Crib doesn't even come as close as most do to achieving this. The overall feel of the footage is on a par with the cover artwork: amateurish, low-quality and somewhat poorly executed. When the DVD case has only three real lines of copy but still contains numerous errors -- "backstage interviews never scene before", for example -- it's already a bad sign, and the actual DVD does nothing to improve on this. It all just feels sloppy.
The crowd fights multiple times, while Busta urges them to "just calm down" and the camera darts around like a kite in a thunderstorm. Later on, he complains that the crowd got his Air Force Ones dirty. Everything is packed neatly into a tight 60 minutes, but this means that while the fights are shown in lingering, mostly boring detail, the majority of the performances are chopped and not shown in full. The highlight actually ends up being the seemingly random selection of between-show music videos, which is strange for a disc called Live From Da Crib, but as far as those go, you could still do better elsewhere. The first Trick Daddy video is helped immensely by appearances from Cee-Lo and Big Boi, and putting in a good dose of Luda with "Be Alright" doesn't hurt either, but the videos don't really have anything to do with the rest of the DVD content. And regarding bonus material, there definitely wasn't any on the copy I was watching, although the case claimed the existence of behind-the-scenes material and backstage interviews.
Overall, Live From Da Crib is probably only really worth a purchase if you're a huge fan of more than one of the artists involved. The footage is decent at best, the music videos are pretty good, and Teddy T looms throughout, bobbing and driving and generally showing an admirable level of enthusiasm. But when all is said and done, you could probably find a better way to drop your $14.95 -- maybe even towards a concert ticket for the true experience. Oh, and next year, I want Busta at my party.