The Art of 16 Bars (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: The Art of 16 Bars (DVD)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana

Finally, there’s an instructional DVD for MCs by MCs featuring real MCs. The Art of 16 Bars (QD3 Entertainment) is a documentary slash boom bap 101 4seminar narrated by Method Man on the “how to’s” and the “one-two, one-two’s” of being an MC. It glosses over everything you need to know from how to take paper and write rhymes to how to make paper and write checks. Featuring interviews with lyrical black belts like Nas, Rakim, Aesop Rock, Kanye West, Raekwon, etc, the Art of 16 Bars is an unmistakable blueprint of success from the artists who have propelled themselves to Hip-Hop’s forefront.

Broken up into sections on Hip-Hop history, writing, sampling, freestyling, biting, and the ins and outs of the music business, the documentary is easy to follow and well organized. QD3 Entertainment was not playing with this project. The footage is extra glossy, the cinematography is on point down to the soundtrack and transitions, and Method Man’s gritty journalism gives the film a rebellious but credible edge.

What’s good about the Art of 16 Bars is that each artist highlighted in the film speaks on their strength. Raekwon talks about how to write a hot 16, Supernatural drops the science of freestyling, Kanye tells his secret to crafting a catchy song concept, and KRS-One acts as Hip-Hop’s tenured professor, speaking about the foundation of Hip-Hop and why rappers do what they do.

Highlights from the documentary include Shock G’s (Digital Breakdown) precise impersonation of how great MCs like Nas, Biggie, and Tupac vocally deliver their rhymes. Also, the film jumps a bracket with Jadakiss’ humorous “i-don’t-give-a-fudgeness” which pops up throughout the film . “I always need shot of wine or suttin’ before I perform. Millions of shows I done, but I still get butterflies…” he confesses.

Still, the Art of 16 Bars is far from the quintessential Hip-Hop documentary. Catering to a mainstream audience, the film shows a preference to highly commercial artists. This is not the type of project that entirely gives light to those who will be remembered with time (106&Park Freestyle Friday champ Jin gets a whole fifteen minute segment). Also, it is more of a how-to film than its rival film The Art of Rhyme released last year, which displays MC’s actually doing their craft. Nonetheless, The Art of 16 Bars is a nice grocery list for those shopping in this game called the music industry.