Blackalicious 4/20 Live in Seattle (Quannum Projects/MVD; November 2006)

Just when you thought that listening to your CDs from Blackalicious was enough, now they come with some visuals, personal thoughts, and behind-the-scenes action that only leaves us wanting more. blackalicious.jpg This DVD is based around one specific concert on Seattle, on that pot-smoking holiday of 4/20, but it’s scope is much wider. We get introduced to the bulk of the Quannum family, including Lifesavas and Lateef, and also meet some friends new and old, such as Pigeon John, RV Salters, and Fat Lip from Pharcyde. More importantly, we learn about the origins of Blackalicious, how the Gift of Gab and Chief XCel met in a Sacramento high school and forged their friendship and working relationship that’s almost 20 years old.

The concert itself is as expected: a steady set of beats and rhymes from one of hip-hop’s most talented and original duos with special guests. blackalicious.jpg The crowd digs it and the DVD audience will too. Perhaps most noteworthy and a testament to Blackalicious’ mass appeal is the composition of the crowd, which varies in age and race. Interspersed between songs are pieces of advice for emerging emcees and deejays and explanations of how which songs came to be, such as how Cut Chemist gave Gift of Gab the idea of “Chemical Calisthenics.”

Of course, the DVD also makes a fine listening piece and the extras are fun to watch, including a bus crawl with the crew and a video for the song “Deception” off the duo’s latest The Craft. It’s basically a concert film decorated amply with info that proves satisfying for fans and informative for newcomers.

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