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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Director Ross Harris Presents: The Lions & Black Shakespeare's Long-delayed Soul Riot Single, "The Magnificent Dance" (The Clash Riddim)

"We have filmed a new video for our cover of The Clash's "Magnificent Dance" with director Ross Harris. It is currently in England being animated and should air sometime in the next month or so," Lion-master Dan Ubick wrote in an emailed conversation about a month ago. "I am excited, as we've attempted a couple videos for other songs, and they didn't pan out. Even Ross' rough cut looks amazing because he brought great energy, ideas, and professionalism to the set. Super psyched to see how [our] tribute to Joe Strummer & The Clash turns out," Ubick enthusiastically continued. The Lions let loose their Stones Throw-pressed second album, Soul Riot back in February and it quickly became one of my favorite albums of 2015 right alongside MR. WONDERFUL, Detroit's Son, Uptown Special, and recent addition Yours, Dreamily. Not too far off from their first album, This Generation, Soul Riot is a well-executed R&B-leaning, horn-accented multi-genred tribute to Reggae's founding fathers, yet a welcomed addition to the genre's burgeoning "4th Wave" tier. Not only as a music writer, but as a tried-and-true Lions fan, I'm overjoyed to see that Soul Riot is finally getting the proper media push it's deserved all along because it really is a fun-loving Reggae album that the masses (young and old) really need to hear. I can vividly remember spotting a "Making movies with The Lions" post uploaded to Stones Throw's label Instagram page back in mid-August, while I was at my Uncle Bob's dentist office, seemingly one of the days Ross Harris, Dan Ubick, Black Shakespeare, and The Lions players were filming "Magnificent Dance" on-location in downtown LA.

Resident Stones Throw-affiliated director Ross Harris' opening shot for "The Magnificent Dance" starts with Lions emcee Black Shakespeare chanting, "DON'T YA EVER STOP... LONG ENOUGH ENOUGH TO START... TAKE YOUR CAR... OUTTA THAT GEAR" down in a dimly-lit alleyway, a powerful scene which is suddenly interrupted by Betty Rox's gyrating dance crew. Harris' raw black-and-white video footage was sent overseas to artists Ruff Mercy & Patch D. Keyes who overlaid simple scribbled accents throughout "Magnificent Dance;" including split-second cartoon-worthy motion lines, sonic bursts, flashing tunnel arrows, nearly step-by-step dance moves, ALL CAPS lyric fragments, geometric shapes, winking and quickly disappearing eyes, and maybe best of all, a dance battle-inflected "R.I.P." tombstone. Ross Harris and The Lions recruited Jamacian-born dancer Betty Rox to choreograph an uptempo dance routine befitting "The Magnificent Dance," which additionally features the slick dance moves of Kaleila J, Ivy Morrison, Giulia Mancini, Victoria Olopherne, DHQ Moiika, Tango Leadaz, Jason Facey, Stunna, Lorenzo Hanna, and Lyndon LBoogie. "WHAT HAVE WE GOT? MAAAAAAAG-NIFICENCE," mysterious YouTube user Ben Velez proclaimed, as he unintentionally debuted The Lions' then-unreleased "The Magnificent Seven" cover on his channel way back in November 2013. "It's very rare that musicians can approach a truly iconic song and cover it properly. It's like Icarus, flying too close to the sun only to get his wings destroyed... It stinks of [Dillinger's] "Cocaine In My Brian" and [Singing Melody's "Money Love"] and everything in between," Velez wrote in his fitting description.

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