"Who is Alicia Keys? That is a really, really big question. Because I
think that there's really no answer to that." -Alicia Keys.
Apparently, Alicia was setting us up for what was to be 82 long minutes that
wouldn't even come close to providing us hints as to who "Alicia
Keys" is. Personally, I always thought a diary was something personal - a
book that one kept to discuss their thoughts, their dreams, their feelings. It
seems Alicia took the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition, "A record
of events, transactions, or observations kept daily or at frequent intervals
long", a little too literal with this DVD release.
My initial exposure to Alicia dates back to 1996. Working at a
"ghetto" mom 'n pop record store, we would frequently receive
promotional CDs for "in-store play" from our distributor. One of the
discs, "Various Artists from 12 Soulful Nights Of Christmas", featured
three R&B artists - Trey Lorenz [former backing singer for Mariah Carey],
Jagged Edge and...Alicia Keys. I didn't know much about her, but I do recall
seeing her perform her song "Little Drummer Girl" on BET...and that
was the last i'd ever heard of her.
Flash forward to 2001. Alicia signs with Clive Davis' new record company, "J Records"
and drops her debut album "Songs In A Minor". The pre-release
hype was ridiculous and, with Clive pimpin' her out at every opportunity, it
paid off: the album debuted at number one and sales were in the millions.
Alicia is routinely hailed as the second coming for R&B music.
Flash forward to 2003. Alicia drops her sophomore disc "the Diary Of
Alicia Keys". Since downloading/file sharing has become more of a
problem for the recording industry, they're constantly trying to think of new an
innovative ways to entice listeners to actually pay for an album, rather
than downloading it. For the initial pressing of her disc, J Records includes a
DVD titled "the Diary". Thirty-five minutes in length, it features
Alicia talking, about her origins, her videos, performing live, her trip to
South Africa, her feelings about her sophomore album and what she hopes is in
store for her future.
Before you start saying "Thanks for the trip down memory lane, however,
I thought this review was for "the Diary Of Alicia Keys"? Why
are you talking about a bonus DVD that was packaged with her CD?" First of
all, it's really not healthy to talk to yourself [regardless if you're directing
it towards your monitor or not]. Anyways, it's relevant since the majority of
that material on the bonus disc is found on the new release too!
Divided into fourteen chapters, the new material is more handheld
camcorder footage of Alicia as she tours. Some of the interview material found
on the initial DVD is slightly expanded upon here, and listening to her, at times it
sounds as if she's started to believe her own hype. However, this is solely my
opinion. We're also treated to a segment documenting the various fights during
the tour; both between band members and members of the audience. I'm not sure if
this "documentary" was intended this to be similar to Madonna's
"Truth Or Dare" or Janet's various video compilations that feature
interaction between the artists and their dancers. In the aforementioned
features, a sense of "family" is conveyed that is missing from
Alicia's disc. In the end, Alicia treats her band members like mere hired hands.
In fact, during what small performance footage is shown, some of the dancers
have their faces blurred [similar to what MTV frequently does to logos in most
i'm a fan of hers, I already own the first DVD. When I heard about this one, I
assumed that it would be a documentary on her life and so on. I was wrong. I was hoping for a "Behind the Music"-type
documentary [minus the sex and drugs], and I have to say I was sorely disappointed.
This feature was similar to a celebrity Travel Channel special and during one segment, as
she's showing us around her latest hotel room in the Sudan, she tells us it's
her "version of "MTV Cribs". Alicia, dear, I wanted to hear about
YOU. NOT your hotel room. NOT your band.