Saturday, June 14, 2008

InstaRapFlix 6: Hip-Hop Immortals - We Got Your Kids

The first thing you'll notice about Hip-Hop Immortals - We Got Your Kids (Netflix rating: 1 star), after the terrible title of course, is how much you will hate the host. He's fond of really cheesy colloquialisms and terrible lines (it's all very scripted), and to show us how "real" this character is, we get footage of him looking hung over, urinating into a dirty toilet and masturbating to porn (a scene you'll surely want to revisit again and again). He's a fictional character, designed to represent everyone in hip-hop, talking about how "we" dress or how when hip-hop started getting big time, major labels came to "us." He also recklessly throws out misinformation like, "hip-hop, which was first named by Malcolm X in his autobiography..." Really? The biography that was written in the mid 60's, ten years before the musical genre started? Because by most accounts, including his own, Afrika Bambaataa, is pretty well-known for having been the one to coin the term and apply it to the genre.

This film seems to be designed to explain hip-hop, and everything connected to it, to people who presumably are just hearing about it now for the first time. If you know much about hip-hop, you're not gonna discover a lot of new information (especially in the first half of the film). That's why they have this host character, to speak for us to the audience, who are presumably outsiders.

The fact that this film tries to cover ALL of hip-hop in less than ninety minutes, means topics like break-dancing and graffiti are done in a flash. And this documentary clearly has made its own, unique decisions about which subjects are most worth its time (corporate sponsorship in rap music, hip-hop clothing design and links between hip-hop and pornography get the most attention). It also means people who are interviewed get about 30 seconds of screentime.

But this movie has a lot of positives going for it. First of all, it has interviews with a bazillion people. Granted, that means someone like Special Ed will just pop up to say, "yeah, I like records" and then he's out, never to be seen again. But it also means whenever the film has a point to make on the subject, whoever has something relevant to say on the subject will be there. There's a billion and one rappers, plus label execs, Stephen Baldwin(!), and porn stars for the pornography segment.

Overall, it's not a great movie... and as I said, that host will really drive you nuts. But if you can past the movie that could have been (you're in a room with Marley Marl and the only thing you ask him about is if he's seen R. Kelly's porn tape? This movie is a cavalcade of wasted opportunity), you'll find it worth watching: an interesting look at how hip-hop has infiltrated mainstream society on all fronts, with almost everybody involved on board - not to buy or anything, but a fair Instant View if you're bored. Be sure and use the slider bar to skip past the first third, though.

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