Thursday, May 6, 2010

Musical Blog-a-Thon: Krush Groove

Starting on May 30th, Encore's World of Film & TV is hosting a Musical Blog-a-Thon. Andrew asked me to write about my favorite musical. As it happens, I discovered my favorite musical just last night. Krush Groove.

Don't get me wrong, Rogers and Hammerstein were masters of their craft, but room-rockers they were not. Give me Hollis, Queens over Oklahoma any day. Krush Groove fictionalizes the story of Def Jam Records humble beginnings. Blair Underwood steps in to play Russell Walker (a.k.a. Russell Simmons) but almost every other role (like Rick Rubin!) is played by the real Def Jam figures. Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, Shelia E., The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, and even New Edition play themselves and perform throughout the movie.

Krush Groove's conflict is pretty dramatic. All of the pressure of running a startup record label falls onto Russell's shoulders. He has help from Rubin and other associates but the financial burden is his responsibility. When the banks and investors all turn him down, Russell decides to take a loan from the shady loan shark everyone's warned him about. This startup money is enough to get the label going but unfortunately, by that time, all of his groups have signed with someone else. He's left with no artists, no money, and a pissed-off gangster looking to collect. In the end, his friends eventually pitch in and help him pay off his debts. Apparently, harsh beatings are often the wake-up calls people need to help a friend.

The real fun of Krush Groove is in the performances. About half of the film is scenes of rappers and singers performing either on stage for an audience or just out in public with a mix of diegetic and non-diegetic music. In one scene, The Fat Boys sing their song "All You Can Eat" while scarfing down pizza at a Sabarro. It might sound like a Weird Al music video but this is what hip-hop was like in the mid-80s. A lot of screentime is given to Sheila E. who I officially have a crush on after this movie. She sings, dances, and even plays the drums and she looks hot doing it. Krush Groove is a priceless piece of hip-hop history. Anyone with a love for the early days of commercial hip-hop should look no further. And while you're at it, pick up Beat Street, Wild Style, Breakin', and Style Wars.


Andrew K. said...

Okay, so obviously I forgot the part where I said publish your entry ON the 30th...but ummm, I know you're a game changer like that. I've never heard of this and Blair Underwood does little for me, but LL Cool J? Hell yeah.

Courtney Small said...

New Edition and the Fat Boys bring back memories from my younger days. This is one of those cult classics that I have heard so much about but never got around to seeing. I will have to track this one down.

elgringo said...

You should both track down Krush Groove. It's great! You should also see Beat Street, Breakin', and Wild Style.