Journalist/editor extrodinaire Lynne d Johnson has a column @ Vibe.com called Fresh Friday Five. Last week, she decided to list five [hip-hop-related] DVDs she thinks should be added to your DVD collection. So, I decided to list several of my current favorites DVDs. But here's the kicker: I don't even own a DVD player.
But being the critic that I am, I'm going list my fresh five anyway. I saw these movies at my friend's house on his DVD player. Eventually, when I do get a DVD player, I'll certainly add these titles to my library.
Fresh Friday Five: The DVDs You Want To See:
1. Superfly Special Edition DVD
Actor Ron O' Neal, who starred as cocaine-dealer Youngblood Priest in the 1972 blaxploitation classic Superfly, died last Wednesday at a Los Angeles hospital after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. He was 66. Hopefully, the just-released Superfly special edition DVD -- which features a "making of" documentary, theatrical trailer, commentary by hip-hop historian Todd Boyd, an interview with Ron and more -- will spark renew interest in the movie, which defined an era in black-folklore films. Superfly was more than just a great blaxiplotation film, it was a strong piece of pulp fiction. In addition, the late Curtis Mayfield's pulsating soundtrack enhanced the movie, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest recordings in popular American music. If you loved it once, you’ll now love it forever.
2. Paid In Full
Lynne's list features video director Hype Williams's movie debut Belly -- which, was recently released in a special edition DVD and music CD package -- and it's a fine film. But another DVD that should get equal notice is Paid In Full (2002). The movie was the directorial debut of former music-video director Charles "Chuck" Stone III, who directed the infamous "Wassup" Budweiser commercials. Charles did a phenomenal job capturing a unique time period (circa 1986) in hip-hop and in inner-city black life. Based on a true story, the movie's story line centers on three drug kingpins named AZ (Wood Harris), Mitch (Mekhi Phifer) and Rico (rapper Cam'ron in a stellar performance) and their infamous rise and greed-driven downfall during the '80s cocaine/crack epidemic in Harlem, New York. Much like Belly, this is another great piece of hip-hoploitation with colorful characters and an interesting story.
Scratch, by far, is the most entertaining movie on the art of turntablism and the ever-growing DJ movement. Filmmaker Doug Pray's documentary introduces us to the originators (DJ Kool Herc, Grand Wizard Theodore, Grand Mixer DXT) and the innovators (DJ Shadow, Mix Master Mike, DJ Babu) of the scratch. Also profiled are DJ Premier, DJ Z-Trip, Cut Chemist, Rob Swift (of the X-Ecutioners) and many others. If there's one nick pick about this film, I would have to say there were some DJs overlooked on this project, particularly DJ Jazzy Jeff (among others). There also should have been turntablists from other countries profiled like Australia's DJ Dexter Fabay (of the hip-hop group the Avalanches) and Russia's DJ Vadim (among many others). Nevertheless, this DVD should be in your library. Also, check out the movie's accompanying soundtrack, which features an overblown reworking of Herbie Hancock's "Rockit," with an all-star cast on the 1's and 2's: Rob Swift, DJ Q-Bert, Mix Master Mike, Grand Mixer DXT, DJ Faust, DJ Shortee and DJ Babu.
When I first saw Beef, it was at the barbershop on bootleg DVD and I wasn't impressed with it. Recently, I was able to see a better copy of the movie and liked some of it. Beef is indeed a noteworthy documentary on various celebratory feuds in hip-hop -- from the BDP Vs. Juice Crew lyrical duels to 50 Cent and Ja Rule's recent verbal (and physical) sparring matches. As far as Beef being the best documentary of the year, it will have to take a backseat behind Tupac: Resurrection. Resurrection is a very powerful and informative biopic/documentary about the late rapper Tupac Shakur that, unlike Beef, had better production value and fluidity in its documentation. Beef should have been released in movie theaters, as well. Nonetheless, both films were two of the best hip-hop-related movies I've seen in 2003.
5. Hip-Hop Honeys : Tasty Flavors
Yes, this is wrong. Women shouldn't have to show their tits and ass to get love from hip-hop. This is one out of many DVD/VHS products in stores that uses "hip-hop" as a marketing tool/tagline to lure consumers to buy adult entertainment -- and it's working. Is it wrong? Probably. Entertainment company Game Recordings -- headed up by the founding editor of the Source magzine Jon "Shecky Green" Shecter -- is behind these booty videos. The dime pieces featured in Tasty Flavors -- including my favorites Crystal Knight, Francine Dee, Lacey, and Chyna -- are more like quarter pieces (they are fwwwiiine). The basement beats -- provided by various up-and-coming knob-twiddlers -- keep everything poppin' like a strip club. Now I'm going to help Jon get even more paid: I think it's time for Game to release a DVD called Hip-Hop Dudes: Tasty Thugs. Yo Jon, I want a royalty check. Holla!
And finally, this from the blog world: