H to the Rizzo

Date: 2009
Posted by: juicymedia
Cast: Horatio ft. The Crew
Credits: Directed by Anthony Wong for Juicy Media
Duration: 3.56

There are plenty of Shakespeare raps out there, mostly performed with a snigger by American high school students and not telling us a great deal beyond the realisation that fashion does not necessarily equate with relevance.

But this looks and sounds like the real deal. Made by a Los Angeles video production company, it has all the moves, poses (guns pointed at the camera), flash style (DeLorean car), clothes and locations (sunny Los Angeles with the Hollywood sign in the background), plus a fine music track. But then the words reveal that what is being played out is the relationship between Hamlet and Horatio, and not in any superficial manner but one in which real psychological dilemma is displayed through poetry. The text for the rap is helpfully given with the video:

I walk poetic with a bop in my step,
With a hip-hop heart beat pounding in my chest
Manifest smooth moves and work through the grooves
Yea, so suave they never catch me on review
Never one to intrude, calm collected and cool
As I, master the challenge and discover the balance
That provides me with talent to amaze the town with,
Level headed and steady as I keep my mind grounded
Cats torn between reason and passion, while I’m straight maxin
With the walkman blastin word, and I fused the views
Inked em in my skin, respect em like they kin
As they flow deep within, sweep through my veins to
maintain my persona from here to barcelona, cuz I’m my only owner.
And I stay low-key, and show the new kids how its supposed to be
Play premier, fresh fitted with gear, state of mind stays severe
Represent for the crew, Rearrange the frames of old flicks
of wicked kick it scenes yo of me and team, before we reigned supreme
and I swerve and I merge outta memory lane, supports the key to the game
I got yo back kid in fact thats automatic, so chill with the whack shit

Whaddup H, fresh fit, my boys got taste,
But yo the streets is calling, snakes forever crawling

(Horatio Phone)
Yo I just seen Claud with the federalis, back of the black denalis, handshakes with the jakes

Oh for real?

(Horatio Phone)
Word, he probably bout to squeal, so keep ya eyes on the trap and watch for the phone tap.

Damn, livin wicked and my man broke the code
Commited ultimate sin and shattered the oath
Composed on the road where our homie’s ghost rose.
Exposed and betrayed, the fucks wrong with today
Yo the parks where we played, the blocks where we stayed, the nikes fresh suede, and damn I’ve slayed
word life..feel like ive been tossed a grenade, pulled pin, im no longer in it to win it,
Yo I just hit my limit, H can you check into it?

(Horatio Phone)
Word, right this minute kid

Yo Ive had enough of the crew, its too much about you
Cuz im in need of cream, want more chains to gleam,
push bigger machines, fine dine quisine,
appear on everyscene, man fuck the low key
Only got one option, need Hamlet’s body droppin, outlined in chalk and locked in a coffin,
Devils swarming in my brain, but yo rebels maintain
G&R you got a mission, have techs split em hard, and make sure theres chance for a D&R

(Horatio Phone [To Hamlet])
Yo inside information, you needa watch your location
They plannin to attack armed with techs and macs
Best go grab ya vest and jet just like that

(Hamlet Phone)
Word is bond, pray I still see dawn

Deep sleep, dreams of reminicin, missin old times when rhymes was our only crimes and no one held a nine
Pager starts beepin, non stop, check the clock
4:07 now im stressin as I return the call, whats poppin?

(Phone Voice)
The guns went off and Hamlets body dropped

As the sun begins to raise and blaze across my face,
Lost in deep space, empty place left in my chest,
Frozen blood halts my breath, cuz my main man left
Whats the next step? Feel like I should follow,
fuck tomorrow, cuz I could hardly swallow, hallowed and cold,
But nah I cant leave the story needs to be told
I carry on tradition, no emissions, withs strictly poetic compositions, and I miss em
But I hold em on back, like ya’ll gold plaques
RIP Hamlet….

“Deep sleep, dreams of reminicin, missin old times when rhymes was our only crimes…” This reads like a compelling re-imaging of Hamlet to a hip-hop world, all the more startling for choosing to make Horatio the central figure rather than Hamlet. What is being said may not be clear to everyone, and it is a video to watch once for its own sake, and then again after reading the words and seeing that real drama is being played out. A smart imagination was at work here.

Note: The full on-screen title is H to the Rizzo – Horatio ft. The Crew – The Soliloquy

Vimeo page

Shakespeare Shortz

Date: 2009
Posted by: citizenstheatre
Cast: Staff of the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Credits: not given
Duration: 2.56

Shakespeare Shortz was a competition launched by the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, in 2009, inviting anyone to contribute a video of them reciting their favourite lines from Shakespeare in under two minutes. The winners won tickets to the theatre’s production of Othello. The video above illustrates what they were looking for, with various staff members of the theatre delivering their lines with affection, like a deeply-held passion at last brought forth. The competition is over now, though submissions are still invited just for fun, and in a way it’s similar to what BardBox is aiming to do – documenting, storing and redistributing a new form of Shakespearean production whose strength lies in its community.

The sixteen responses to the video can be found on YouTube here or on the Citizens Theatre’s own site, here. The two winners were Max Does Shakespeare by yobkulcha (yet another example of children reciting words beyond their understanding):

and Calum MacAskill Porter by SkinheadNinja, a particularly clever piece of elementary animation, which merits far more YouTube views than it has received so far:

All in all, this was a good idea that should have had far wider distribution. If only the RSC or the National had come up with it – then Shakespeare and online video might have started to gain the attention it undoubtedly deserves.

YouTube page
Responses to the competition on YouTube
Citizens Theatre Shakespeare Shortz site