Out now is a collection of musical documentaries for you. First we have Dumb It Down about the decline of meaningful hip hop music. I’m not a fan of today’s hip hop, but grew up on old school hip hop. Watching this documentary I understand why. The movie features musicians and experts and they discuss how today’s urban music lacks the messages and positivity that made hip hop what it was. A good example of this is Queen Latifah’s U.N.I.T.Y. In that classic song, she says “Who you calling a bitch?” Back then that was a pro-woman anthem telling men that woman aren’t going to take their crap anymore. An expert in the movie said today’s girls don’t see the big deal in being called a bitch and wouldn’t understand the message of that song. Today’s hip hop is about how much money you have, the jewelry you’re rocking, the whip you’re driving, the blunts you’re smoking and hoes you’re sleeping with. It’s about the beats and selling hit records. Old school hip hop had something to say and wanted people to get their message. Even in dance songs, there was a purpose to the lyrics. Now it’s about big booties, getting high and getting paid. Even old school artists are being asked to dumb down their lyrics and use less words when working with today’s artists. A surprisingly interesting documentary.
Next we have Steve Hackett: The Man, The Music. I can admit the name didn’t ring a bell immediately, but after seeing the documentary, I’m ashamed it didn’t. He was a guitarist for Genesis during their progressive years, before they went pop. He had a bunch of solo albums as well. The best part of the film is how many people his style and music inspired. You can see someone like Eddie Van Halen borrowing his shredding techniques. Unfortunately the film is really just a piece to showcase Steve Hackett. There’s nothing more to it. It was shot over a few years and mixes in interviews with other musicians and producers. Fans of his will love it, but there isn’t a whole lot to it beyond some tension with former band mates. Although as a fan of the guitar, seeing his techniques, hearing his style both electric and acoustic was still pretty cool. If you aren’t familiar with him, you probably won’t get much out of this though.
Last we have Gone With the Wind: Lynyrd Skynyrd. I’ve liked Lynyrd Skynyrd for years so I enjoyed this. Nothing about it seems all that new to me, but if you aren’t a fan, you’ll learn a lot. It mixes old footage and interviews, music and members of the band to tell the story of their rise and the tragic plane crash that took the lives of Ronnie Van Zant and other band members. Even though a lot of it felt familiar, it’s a solid, in depth documentary about the band. In fact, I might say it’s the most in depth one I’ve ever seen. The old footage and photos are really great as are the interviews. Who knows what the band could have become if it wasn’t for that plane crash. If you are a fan of the band, definitely pick this one up. If you only know Free Bird or Sweet Home Alabama and want to learn more about them, this will teach you a lot.