Pretty Lights

Is it just me or does every single person on this campus listen to every type of music there is?

It seems that whenever I am to ask someone what type of music they enjoy, they always give me the exact same answer, “I like everything.”

So drop the generic “I am open-minded” answer and think to yourself what type of music you truly get down to. Then ask yourself, “Don’t I wish I really was familiar with more?”

While the Grammys award show was spoon-feeding everyone the same old thing you hear on the radio every day last week, the people behind the awards had an ace in the hole; one in the form of a film that was shown at AMC Carolina Pavilion 22 on South Boulevard on Thursday, Feb. 16th.

Lucky for you, it’s returning for one more showing at the same place on Feb. 23rd.

The film, presented by Hyundai Veloster in association with The Grammys, is titled “RE:Generation” and it captures a music project embarked upon by five world renowned DJs to do something truly different.

The DJs involved are The Crystal Method (two DJs, really), DJ Premier, Mark Ronson, Pretty Lights and Skrillex. Each artist was assigned a genre that was completely new and obscure to them and told to make one great song with it.

DJ Premier

DJ Premier, a hip hop DJ known by anyone who has ever touched a rap record, was told to make a song based on classical music. Pretty Lights, an electronic music DJ, was assigned country and Skrillex, perhaps the most famous of the five at present time, was to collaborate with the three remaining members of The Doors.

The project could have easily fallen into a gimmick in multiple different ways.

The DJs might not have taken it seriously and sort of just made what they usually make incorporating a sample or two. The collaborative artists could have all been excited to help and everyone could have went home happy after a few studio sessions, more in tuned with the musical world.

This documentary beat back those gimmicks and, whether due to the elite class of DJs chosen for the project or just the lucky science of the choices assigned to each, created a true diamond in the rough of music film.


Each DJ truly tries to dive headfirst into the project at hand and assigns it true meaning to themselves personally. Each also finds out soon enough that it won’t be an easy road to travel.

The muscle of the movie is conflict, and there is no shortage of it. Some is comical and got the biggest laughs out of the audience, while some awkward moments give the viewer a standoffish feeling and leaves a bitter aftertaste.

This conflict is born in the fact that every DJ is attempting to collaborate with at least one artist from their given genre; an artist scene as an innovator in their field and in no mood to be told how to make music by a guy with a two turntables and a bunch of wires.

While DJ Premier brings longtime friend Nas in and Mark Ronson calls on longtime collaborator Ziggy Modeliste, even they have to step out of their safe zones at least once.

The Crystal Method

One of the toughest parts of the movie to watch is a collaboration between electronic artists The Crystal Method and Martha Reeves, a queen of Detroit before Motown truly ruled.

The two DJs tour the city with her and even watch alongside her as the first auditorium she ever performed in is torn down. The team thinks they’ve experienced enough to write a love song for Reeves’ hometown that she will then record for them.

Once in the studio, The Crystal Method soon realize that she is not willing to simply sing what is written in front of her and she wants a say in the entire process. The term diva comes to mind, and not with a negative connotation, but an understandable one.

It was just simply inevitable that these three people would clash coming from the complete opposite cultures they come from.

Mark Ronson

If the muscle of the movie is conflict, then the music is the heart, and it is the reason this movie is a must-see for any true music fan. It is simply amazing to see Ronson move around in a room full of musical geniuses and treat it as if he’s playing with his Garage Band app.

Conflict or not, the movie is ultimately about understanding and bridging generational gaps through music. It even worked on me.

Before I walked into that theater, I would have honestly told you that I don’t care an ounce for electronic music and don’t care to ever hear a Skrillex song.

Walking out, I may not be buying tickets for any upcoming shows, but I understand it. I respect the artists and can dig the appeal. That feeling is what this movie is all about.


*All photos courtesy of Brian Nevins.