Movie Review: DJ Premier and “The Re:Generation Music Project”


Rating: 8/10

For only two dates, one of which was last night (February 16) and the other on February 23, The Grammys and the Hyundai Veloster teamed up to present and release a one-of-a-kind documentary film entitled The Re:Generation Music Project in select theaters nationwide.

The film, which was directed by Amir Bar Lev, is a veritable visual and sensory gumbo, where some of the world’s most renowned and heavily praised producers and DJs are each assigned a musical genre to remix and “regenerate.” Their stories and creative processes are intertwined throughout the film, with DJ Premier playing more of a “leading star” role as he helps connect the dots between the artists and genres featured.

Over the course of the film’s 90-minute running time, viewers get to experience the creative and collaborative process of each producer, as they set out to work with some of the greatest artists in their assigned genres. For example, Mark Ronson, who is given the Jazz genre to “regenerate”, works with The Dap Kings, Trombone Shorty, Erykah Badu, and Yassin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, on a amazing song that is appropriately titled “Good Gumbo.”

While Premier is tasked with handling the Classical music genre, Dubstep producer and recent Grammy-winner Skrillex is tasked with handling Rock. Producing duo The Crystal Method worked with R&B, Electronic-music star Pretty Lights was set to handle Country, and Mark Ronson, who helped develop Amy Winehouse’s sound, was tasked with handling Jazz. Each producer is filmed during their processes of remixing, recreating and re-imagining five traditional styles of music.

Not only is it amazing to watch these gifted musicians work outside of their comfort zones, it is even more amazing to see and hear the final product once it is played and debuted on the screen. The Re:Generation Music Project manages to capture some of the most influential and trending musical styles as they are forced to merge together and produce a product and sound that is just as natural as anything you’ve heard from the genre before.

The Crystal Method are shown hard at work in the studio on their R&B song, which features singer Martha Reeves and the Funk Brothers as they create what they believe is the perfect ode to the the fallen city of Detroit, Martha Reeves’ hometown. A highlight is the actual Martha Reeves taking The Crystal Method on a tour of to better give them a sense of the city’s despair, in stark contrast to the striving goldmine it was just a few decades ago.

When we see Pretty Lights try and explain his vision to a Nashville band and attempt to direct Country star Ralph Stanley, we can feel the frustration that he has as he cannot effectively break down the barriers between his style and the Country genre. Fans will enjoy the end product he creates – a truly amazing record to be loved by diverse audiences – the main purpose for this “experimental film.”

On the downside, one of the film’s only pitfalls is that we are never shown how or why these specific producers were selected or why they are given the genres that they are assigned to “remix.” Perhaps the filmmakers know that we, as forward-thinking individuals, can pretty much figure it out on our own. Overall, The Re:Generation Music Project is a highly-recommended, one-of-a-kind film. Catch it in theaters next week, or be sure to look out for it on DVD and Blu-Ray later this year. You will not be dissapointed!