Prison Issue – You Better Watch Out

As a pre-cursor to this track review, it seems that a bit of deliberation on genre is needed. Comedic music comes under a lot of scrutiny from both music and comedy fans, there’s a minutia of artists who get the correct blend. But, personally, it seems that those who succeed with the style are those who put a lot of effort into both the music and humour, artists can offset one against the other very easily, for example; not putting any effort into production because it’s a comedy track. This isn’t the way I think musical comedians should conduct their work. You’ll see that the ‘Flight of the Concords’ have incredible production on the most menial of songs (some would argue that this could be due to their big budget), but isn’t that the point? To put a lot of production value in a song about savannah based animals that like gangster rap? Trivial but funny.

An example of getting the blend between comedy and music right that sits a bit closer to home would be when I saw a jurassic comedy band play at The Green Door Store not two months ago. When GANG are your support act, you’d better be good and they were. To look at them, you’d think it was a bunch of guys who put on raptor suits and ventured onto the stage as a drunken bet, but musically they were tight, funny and well produced. Songs such as ‘Jurassic Park on the N64’ really threw the crowd into hysterics.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is; comedy and music should be taken seriously, if you want to yield the best results.

Prison Issue have created a track that ultimately plays off the idea that they, as advocates for gangster rap, have created a thug image of the christmas holiday. In the music video, we see the dubious duo sat in the back of their mates car wearing red ski masks, sunglasses, santa outfits and tinsel. Both wielding toy guns. I think this is where I, in my own opinion, lost touch with the track. I’m not sure that I get the joke. Is Father Christmas a pimp? Are his elves gang-bangers? Is this a comment on the futile entropy of capitalising on a festive past-time that has been around for over a thousand years? These are all just guesses, I’d tell you if I could.

Unfortunately, the lyrical content isn’t on-hand to diffuse the confusing message either. We’re left with, albeit well rapped, verses that ascertain to vague references to cars and drink and guns, with christmas puns thrown in for good measure. But, a lot can be said for the hook in the chorus. Although non-sensical in message, I’ve found my self singing it days after.

There are production elements of the track that both work and don’t. The top line elements of the melody work well, a contemporary, heavy bass sequence of chords that are a mainstay throughout the song; Prison Issue demonstrate some clear and concise talent through their instruments. However, the final mix of the backing vocals in the chorus could do with some work.

To finish, ‘You Better Watch Out’ has elements that work really well, the way that the music is written is great. But the track ultimately confuses me, it seems that from the way the lyrics have been written and the way that the whole episode has been filmed, that the artists might not be taking comedy too seriously. Maybe that’s the point.

Words by Harvey Dent

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