Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Three Scenes I Love: Hip-Hop Docs

As a lifetime fan of hip-hop, the music and the culture, I'm constantly seeking out films that handle its numerous elements in a skillful and respectful manner. I'm talking about emceeing, turntablism, graffitti, breakdancing, beatboxing, etc. What I'm not talking about is 50 Cent. What I'm not talking about is commercial radio rap. I'm talking about hip-hop. The stuff KRS-One raps about and Michael Eric Dyson writes about. Here's three scenes that mean a lot to me and capture my love for this culture.

Scratch - Mixmaster Mike Scratching and Cutting Robert Johnson

This scene is special because it introduced me to Robert Johnson and the Delta Blues. In forty-five seconds, I loved a new genre of music. The next day, I was the owner of every Johnson track in existence (which isn't that many, as it turned out). Hip-Hop draws influence from every genre of music, film, and literature. Studying hip-hop brought me to R&B, funk, blues, doo wop, and jazz...hundred of artists, albums, record labels, all from finding out my favorite artists' favorite songs.

Style Wars - Opening Sequence

The film opens in a dark subway tunnel. A train turns through the dark. One curve lines the train up next to a bright lamp. That's when the magic happens. Graffiti. Names written in spray paint by young artists attempting to go "All City." Chalfant and Silver 's opening is one of the most effective I've ever seen.

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme - Mos Def in the Park

YouTube Link
MP3 Download Link
Mos Def, one of the best, raps straight off the top. I've freestyled in battles, cypher circles, and even with a couple accomplished rappers, but I've never been anywhere close to Mos' lyrical skills. I've got a lot of "Yo...yo...'s" and filler lines, but Dante Smith drops an amazing sixteen filled with references to older hip-hop groups, his hometown, an ex-President, and even raps one line in Spanish.

Slim brown skin I be/standin' 5'10'' I be/rockin' it/when I be/in your vicinity/
Raw style energy/recognize symmetry/constant to the edge of me/broken down chemically/
Ain't another ten emcee/talkin' 'bout how been I be/styled like Kennedy/
Late like a ten to three/when I say when I be/girls say venga aqui/
'Cause they tend to be...way out like Tennessee/
Take me to a place called the BK/without pause or delay/ yet run like Penn relay/
don't deal with he say she say/ain't workin' for no cheap pay/the Mos Def beat play/
this is what the streets say/Hey Mr. DJ: Play that devil MO'gain/that jam got me open/
Beside to break it broken/from front front side to side middle to back/
Never the wack/I come from Bedstuy, black/From Louis A-V-E to be exact/
Brooklyn, where you at?/


Daniel G. said...

Now that's the straight dope!

elgringo said...

Glad you thought so.

Fox said...

One of my favorite things is to watch battle raps. I fantasize about being in one one day, but my skillz are very very poor. My problem is that I can come up with good one-liners and rhymers but I can't flow. I ain't got no flow, yo!

Daniel G. said...

Seriously, what happened to Eminem?

natsukashi said...

The two constants in my life thus far... my love for nachos and a Beastie Boys song that serves as the soundtrack to a specific point and time. I even got to meet Biz on a flight in Baltomore and heard stories from him for two was like god's vagina.

emre nahli said...

thanks man