Monday, January 19, 2009

InstaRapFlix 15.1: Born 2B Gangsta?

So, I've been checking semi-regularly (read: not regularly at all), and the defective video from my previous InstaRapFlix write-up, Born 2B Gangsta? (Netflix rating: 1.5 stars), is now working! Woohoo! We can finally watch it, so let's get to it.

The first question I found myself asking was: who is this for? The doc starts out with mostly unknown west coast gangsta rappers (though Coolio is included) talking about how they started selling drugs because it was the only way they could make a living, and why you have to be violent to make it in the business. Then an anthropologist (yeah, I was curious so I went and found his website) and a couple cops come on and say the same thing. A lot of the footage seems to come from a panel discussion, which features Davey D.

...There's also some handheld shot-from-the-audience concert footage of a Cee-Loless The Goodie Mob, which doesn't seem to be here at all. Some of the footage is shown without sound, even! ...I can only guess that this film first screened it with the sound, but were told to desist because they couldn't get the rights? But, then, why not cut it? When there is sound, you the sound is so low quality you can't make out what they're saying (I'm not even sure what song it was), anyway.

Some more known rappers do come up around the thirty minute mark for a segment on the word "bitch." All together, you've got Mic G, Royal Flush, Suga T, the Concious Daughters, Rappin' 4-Tay, Treach and JT the Bigga Figga. But, they're all only featured for about fifteen seconds each. It just feels like: why go to the trouble of getting these artists in your documentary if you're not going to give them a chance to say anything? I guess the answer is because they were just grabbing most of these artists at events for quick soundbites. And, yeah, like you see on the box, Ice-T is in this, too. It looks like footage of a mini-press junket in his house, where he plays a song off one of his tapes to a room of four or five people and briefly discusses it. The film cuts back to this discussion several times, so he does actually get to fully express a few points.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that there's not much movie here. Like I said, most of the footage seems to come from the same event, and the running time is just over an hour. The interview clips are all so short they barely get started introducing a topic before they're cut off. Most people aren't saying anything you haven't heard a thousand times already. It seems like somebody had all this footage of the event and decided to cut it into a movie to sell on DVD. They did make some effort to talk to the police and a guy who puts security systems in schools (more with him might've been interesting), but they definitely didn't pull together a movie's worth before calling it a day.

Bottom line: you're not gonna see or hear anything you haven't heard on the subject a hundred times before and better. The only thing of any real value or substance here is the Ice-T interview, which is still purely conventional fare.

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