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RIP Bushwick Bill (1966-2019)

A few days ago, I had heard some reports that Bushwick Bill of Geto Boys fame had died. However, for the rest of the day, it had been stated that he was fighting for his life. Then came the announcement that he had left this world for good.

I also remember having read that he had been suffering from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer since this past February. When I read about this, I was hoping that he would beat the cancer.

It was a shock to hear about this man’s passing. I mostly remember him as the diminutive member of Geto Boys. Hell, I even remember his appearance in the video for “Dre Day” from Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. He even had some great verses in a lot of classics from Geto Boys. However, I haven’t really heard much of his solo stuff. From what I also had read, he also turned his life around much later and did a Christian rap album, which was his last solo album to date. Maybe one day I might have to look into checking out and covering his solo work.

REST IN PEACE

Richard Stephen Shaw

aka Bushwick Bill

12.8.1966 to 6.9.2019

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – All Things Fall Apart

Year of Release: 2011

Production Companies: Hannibal Pictures/Cheetah Vision Films

You know, I can’t really say that I have seen a lot of films with 50 Cent in them. I don’t have a problem with 50 Cent as a rapper, but as an actor, I have noticed that he had been in a bunch of straight-to-video stuff. What amazes me about all of this is that when he had been in films that had theatrical releases, he had a supporting role. You would think that at one point with him being a rap star (and he was rather big at one point, and I don’t mean his physique, and more on that later) that he would have gotten lead roles. I think that “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” (The movie, I mean) affected his chances of being a leading man in Hollywood, as it didn’t do well. I haven’t seen it, though I will one day and I plan on covering it.

What I am going to talk about is what seemed like 50’s passion project, as he not only starred in the movie, but also had a credit in writing the script and producer. For those who don’t know, back in the early 2010s, in fact it was exactly in 2010, there were pictures on the internet that showed 50 Cent looking emaciated. He looked rather sickly. It turned out he had lost a lot of weight for a role. For years, I wondered what movie it was that he went through that weight loss. Fast forward to this year, when my question was finally answered. My mom had told me about this movie and how she watched it one day and she thought it was good. I ended up giving it a watch one day when it happened to be on.

The movie’s plot deals with Deon, played by 50 himself, who is a star running back at his college. He is so good that that he will be a surefire shot in the top 10 draft picks for the NFL. He is also supported by his mother, played by Lynn Whitfield, his mother’s boyfriend, played by Mario Van Peebles. However, his brother Sean, played by Cedric Sanders, is constantly living in his shadow. Being that Deon is quite a ladies man, when Sean wanted his brother to talk to a girl he liked, Deon ended up getting the girl instead. In fact, Deon had no problem getting women into bed. But then a big change occurs. One day in the locker room, he passed out and it was revealed that he had a cancerous tumor that is only a centimeter away from his heart. But the question on the parents’ mind was if he could still play football in spite of his condition. From that point on, things fall apart from there.

Okay, I must note that I admire 50 Cent’s commitment to this. According to IMDB, he had lost a friend to cancer, so in a lot of ways this film is a tribute and based on a true story. Plus, the weight loss was a definite sign that he was committed to the role. So in a lot of ways, he earns my respect for this. But there were a lot of problems with this film.

I have to hand it to 50 Cent for trying to give a convincing performance when he was at the height of his collegiate football career and when he was in his ill state. He needs to work on it more, but it wasn’t bad. The problems with the film were the writing and the portrayals of certain characters. When Deon was revealed to have cancer, all of a sudden he becomes a burden on everyone else in his family, with his mother having to work multiple jobs to pay off the medical bills. Sean ended up getting the girl, but still resents Deon and looks at him as a burden. Eric, the mother’s boyfriend (later ex), seemed more concerned about whether Deon could play, rather than his condition. In fact, I felt no sympathy for the other characters, except for maybe the mom. One part that stood out for the wrong reasons was when Deon, who was working as a janitor at the college, saw this woman jogging on the grounds and tried to talk to her, except that she no longer recognized him. She was seen earlier in the film, by the way, as another notch on Deon’s headboard. They met in a gym and then spotted him and they worked out together, both literally and figuratively. Hell, the last appearance before that particular scene had implied that those two likely slept together.

What made things even worse was that suddenly, because Deon could no longer play, the university had to revoke his scholarship, during his senior year, no less. Even more ridiculous, he went to a counselor, who said something that “there used to be a star running back with that same name,” then was dumbfounded that they were one and the same.

Did I mention that Deon proves that he could be a car salesman more than halfway and that at the end, there was a celebration with tents and set on the football field with no clear reason? Also, did I forget to mention that Ray Liotta had only three scenes despite being on the cover/poster art? Liotta has a role in this film as the doctor who tells Deon about his condition. So he basically just tells him what he should do, but doesn’t give any medication to help treat his illness.

The film ended with Deon leaving the party, so that he could run down the field and raise his arms in victory for one last hurrah, in a freeze frame, as well. It wasn’t clear what the meaning behind that bit was. Did he want to die on the field? Was it so that he could relive his lost glory that was taken from him? It was vague.

I will say that this is one of those films that I can give credit where it’s due, but at the same time, it just wasn’t that good in the end. 50 Cent had a lot of commitment for this role, but regarding the screenplay, it would have been much better if he had pitched the story and hire a screenwriter to write the script. It would have made the film much better than it was. I also had trouble buying 50 Cent, who was in his mid-30s at the time this was film, playing someone in his early-20s. Usually college athletes are in their late-teens to early-20s, and it would make sense for 50’s character to be around that age, but I couldn’t buy him as someone at that age. He didn’t even look that young to be convincing. That dreadlocks wig didn’t convince me, either.

In the end, I can only admire 50’s commitment and effort for it, but the movie as a whole could have been a lot better.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – Friday After Next

Year of Release: 2002

Production Companies: New Line Cinema/Cubevision

It has been said by many people that when a third film comes in a franchise, more often than not, it’s considered the weakest link. A lot of the time, people are right about it, but then you have ones that are better or as good. In the end, it’s really subjective and it boils down to what the viewer thinks.

Friday After Next is the third film of the Friday franchise. Now I know what you might be thinking. Why am I covering the third film when I haven’t done reviews on the first two yet? Well, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout because I am telling you why. I am sure that last sentence was a good indicator why I am doing this first. If not, the explanation is that it’s December and it’s Christmas-time, and this film in particular takes place around that time and it had a Christmas-theme.

I promise that I will cover Friday and Next Friday, as well as the soundtracks eventually. I might even cover the short-lived animated series one day (Yes, it existed and I have seen a few episodes). But in the meantime, I am going to talk about this film.

The film’s takes place on Christmas Eve, which falls on a Friday (Because for some reason, this film series NEEDS to have it set on that day; more on this later), and it starts with Craig, Ice Cube’s character who appeared in all three films, waking up in the middle of the night and finding a burglar dressed like Santa Claus. Santa was seen robbing Craig and Day-Day’s (Mike Epps) Christmas presents and the one thing that was even more important: rent money. So that’s basically the main part of the plot, though like the previous two films, there were other subplots and such that went on. After all, this film DOES take place in the span of a day.

So Craig and Day-Day get jobs as security guards at a strip mall to try to get money to pay the rent to the guys’ repulsive landlord, Ms. Pearly. Oh, and she has a son named Damon, played by Terry Crews, who just got out of prison and has developed an interest in men over time. Did I mention that Craig also gains an attraction to Donna, the girlfriend of Money Mike, played by Katt Williams? And that Craig and Day-Day are throwing a wild Christmas party in the evening? Like I said, so much goes on in a one-day period.

What I could say about this film is that it was the weakest of the three, but really, this film got better after multiple viewings. I actually remember seeing this in theaters when it came out. I remember having minor chuckles here and there, but there were some other things that left a lot to be desired. However, after subsequent viewings, it kind of grew on me. Another thing of note is that it had the same tone as the second film, which was different from the first. Keep this in mind, the first film was funny film, but it felt a little more serious and straight in tone in comparison to the second and third films, as they felt a little more wacky and over-the-top with some slapstick in the mix. It wouldn’t surprise me if the film’s opening credits done in an animated style went with it, but at least it was kind of interesting. I also found it funny that Mike Epps played another character in this film as a shotgun-wielding old man.

I liked that they made some links to the previous films, as the series’s other mainstay, Willie (John Witherspoon) made his return once again, along with Elroy from the second film. I noticed that Anna Marie Horsford reprised her role as Craig’s mom, but the gripe that I had was that she didn’t really have a lot to do in this film. The one part that I can think of was when she confronted Mrs. Pearly about coming onto Willie towards the end, but overall, she didn’t have a lot of lines in the film. I think I can count on one hand about the lines of dialogue she had. Now that I think about it, I really wonder if the producers even approached Regina King for her to return as Dana at any point. She wasn’t in the film, obviously, but it felt like she was the forgotten character of the Jones family (Okay, maybe not as she was featured in the animated series, but that’s a topic for another day). I read on IMDB that Chris Tucker was asked to reprise his role as Smokey, but he declined. Another thing of note was that Roach was supposed to return as an earlier draft of the script had him appear, but it was scrapped because the actor who played him died.

As far as links to the previous films go, I noticed that Tom “Tiny” Lister didn’t return as Debo, but I suppose that Ice Cube wanted to change things up a bit and not have that character return as an antagonist.

Fun fact: I didn’t even know until today that there was an alternate ending to the film, and this film has been out for 16 years. The alternate ending showed Santa Claus (and I mean the villain of the film, as in the burglar) in a sympathetic light. It turned out that he was homeless and had only stolen some presents to give his children a good Christmas. Sure, there was some humor thrown in there, but it changed the tone up a tad as it showed the true meaning of Christmas at the end. While I like the original ending in that it showed that the villain was defeated, I thought that the original ending was well written and I actually like it more, but in another perspective, it probably would given the viewers a tonal shift.

Just a minor nitpick. It was said that movie took place on Christmas Eve that fell on a Friday. I am sure I am among a small percentage who would really pay attention to say something like this, but if Christmas Eve in this movie was on a Friday, it sure wasn’t set in 2001 or 2002. Because if Christmas Day fell on a Saturday, it would probably be in 1999 or 2004 because of this 5 or 6 year (Depending on a leap year falling in between) pattern that has certain dates go back to a certain day. It was just an observation. But then again, it was only said that it was Friday at the beginning of the film. It was not mentioned after that.

Other than that, this film was enjoyable to pass an hour and a half, especially during the Christmas season. It had some funny gags, especially with the bits involving Damon and Money Mike. What’s weird is that prior to seeing this movie in theaters, I had only known of Terry Crews through this show called Battle Dome, which was similar to American Gladiators with a few elements of professional wrestling thrown in. I didn’t even know that he was actually a funny guy at the time until I saw this movie. It’s the weakest of the series, but it had some fun moments and it’s far from the worst movie.

NEXT UP: Friday After Next soundtrack

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Rap Movie Reviews

Movie Review – Mid90s

Year of Release: 2018

Production Companies: A24/Waypoint Entertainment/Scott Rudin Productions

For those who grew up in the 1990’s, it’s weird to look at period pieces or movies and shows from that era and see how things have changed since then, no matter how many people say that things are the same now as they were then. Sure, you can compare how much of a change between the 1980’s and 1990’s, and so forth, but when watching a movie like this, it really shows how things were different, especially in this day and age with people’s faces glued to their cellphones and the internet being huge. What’s funny to me is that I have read an article in the past about how no one could make a period piece about the 1990’s that is similar to “Dazed and Confused” and “American Graffiti,” but this may have proved that guy wrong (I can’t find the article, but if I do, I will update and link it).

The movie tells the story of Stevie, who is played by a young actor named Sunny Sujic. Stevie goes through life living through the physical abuse of his older brother Ian, played by Lucas Hedges, as well as living with their mother. Stevie looks up to his brother as he has a collection of rap CD’s from that era, ranging from Wu-Tang to Mobb Deep to Cypress Hill. At some point, Stevie linked up with a group of skaters at a skate shop and then started hanging out with them, trying to find his place.

Did I mention that this film was also the directorial debut of Jonah Hill? Well, he did not just direct this film, he also wrote it. It was clear that this movie was inspired by some other films, namely 1995’s “Kids,” as well as 1993’s “The Sandlot.” A lot of story elements come from the former, like how Stevie hung out with a group of skaters and getting into trouble, as well as doing things like smoking weed and drinking 40’s. How it compares to “The Sandlot” is that it focused mainly on the perspective of Stevie, as he was this film’s version of Smalls. However, unlike “Kids,” this movie is nowhere near as sinister, even though there was some sexism here and there, but if anything, it showed how kids were during that time, add to the fact that it really showed that certain elements would not fly in today’s world. Sure, some characters were not likable in this movie, but then you also had some cool guys and also while you may not like a certain character, you feel for him and also see that he has a softer side than previously let on.

One of the things that stood out about this movie was that it was shot on 16mm, so it was mainly in fullscreen with a 4:3 ratio. Part of me felt that this was intentional as widescreen was not really that much of a thing during that era, so maybe it was done to capture the feel from that time period.

Another that amazed me was that it was a short movie with a lot of story to be told and did not need to be stretched out for everything to understand the main events of it. This movie ran at 84 minutes, but it did not need to be longer to be better. Plus, many of the story elements had some resolution by the film’s end. What was also great was the soundtrack for the movie, as a lot of songs that were played were from a lot of great rap acts such as Cypress Hill, The Pharcyde, Wu-Tang Clan, Jeru The Damaja, Gravediggaz, etc.

On a personal note, I found myself relating a lot to Stevie as I had gone through some of the stuff that he had gone through. The main thing that reminded him of me was when he would go through his brother’s CD collection, as when I was a kid (preteen and also teenager), I used to go through my youngest uncle’s CD collection as he had a lot of what came out around that time. I have been a hip-hop fan for as long as I can remember, and I saw myself in Stevie, though I never suffered any sort of abuse. Also, another thing that made me relate to him was that I had trouble fitting in at times. I mean, yes, I had friends, but if you saw me during lunch breaks, I either kept to myself or would just hang out in a classroom with a friend of mine.

Jonah Hill really impressed me with his direction for this film. Sure, a lot of people may dismiss him for having done a lot of those crude comedies like “This is The End,” “Superbad,” ” The Sitter,” “Get Him to the Greek,” etc. but he has shown that he has talent, and that includes writing and directing. According to IMDB, he had to talk with some well-known film directors such as Martin Scorsese and Ethan Coen on the filmmaking process. Directing a movie seemed quite a step for him, but after seeing this movie, I wonder what he could do next. It really felt like a passion project for him, as it seemed like he put a lot of effort into making this movie work. Overall, this film was definitely worthy of an hour and a half of my time.

5/5

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Soundtrack Albums

Movie Soundtrack Review – Bones

Year of Release: 2001

Record Label: Doggystyle Records/Priority Records

Click here for my review of the movie.

I have been long overdue for this. I have been meaning to write a review on this for a while, especially when I do it in the middle of October. Last year, when I devoted most of my reviews to the Flatlinerz and Gravediggaz, I felt that I was missing something. I noted in one of my reviews that doing horrorcore rap albums should not really matter in the middle of October, as there are numerous horrorcore acts out there. But I had meaning to do this regardless. However, it would be hard to really label this a horrorcore album, as there were very few songs of that nature on this. How so? Well, let’s find out.

This soundtrack kicked off with an intro bit that had Snoop Dogg, who played the title character from the movie, “Bones,” of which this was the soundtrack. It was not really a song, but rather a narration of the character and his cause with music in the background. It had a nice beat to it, as it quite a funky and jazzy feel. However, what really kicked it off was the song, “The Legend of Jimmy Bones” from RBX, Snoop, and MC Ren. THIS song really had the horrorcore feel, and in a lot of ways, it was related to the movie as it talked about some bits of the plot, not to mention that there was a sound clip from the movie towards the end. The beat really gave it an unsettling feel.

One could expect that this album had a lot of Snoop’s affiliates on it, and that would be correct. Being that this was released under Snoop’s label, it seemed that it was to showcase some of the talent that it had. One song that stood out was “Lost Angels in the Sky” from Lost Angels and Kokane. I am not familiar with Lost Angels, though I am familiar with Kokane, who had done a lot of hooks for Snoop and crew back in the day. It had a great beat done by Battlecat, who had done “G’d Up” from Tha Eastsidaz and “We Can Freak It” from Kurupt in the past. In fact, a lot of people from Snoop’s crew appeared on here, ranging from Kurupt to Nate Dogg, and what better guy to do a hook on a song than this guy? May he rest in peace, by the way.

What I find funny is the song, “It’s Jimmy” from Kurupt and Roscoe. Not a bad song by any means, especially when it’s a collab between this brotherly duo, but this album came out around the time of “The Saga Continues” from P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family, and the chorus was similar to the song “Diddy.” I am certain that the chorus was derived from another song, but it’s hard not to compare the two.

One song that can really get your head bump is “Death of Snow White,” which featured Bad Azz, along with Chan and Coniyac, 2/3 of short-lived female rap act Doggy’s Angels (Remember them?). Funny I should mention them as the other member, Kola, appeared on the track that followed called “If You Came Here To Party.” Warren G produced a phat beat for that track. If anything, some of these songs could be played at parties or gatherings, and some of them can be danced to, especially “Raise Up” from Kokane. Also, Snoop did a damn good job at paying homage to “Payback” from James Brown on “Jimmy’s Revenge.” Fredwreck did a good job on the production of this song, one of many songs that he produced for this album.

However, it was not just Snoop’s own crew on this album, as there were some cuts from D12 and Cypress Hill. I can’t complain about “These Drugs” from D12, and things were hot for them during the time this came out as “Devil’s Night” came out the summer of that same year. Cypress Hill has never disappointed me with their music, so it was no exception, though I will say a longer version of “Memories” appeared on their album “Stoned Raiders,” which was released not too long after this album had come out. There was another track from a group that was outside of Snoop’s circle, as Outkast appeared on here and collaborated with Snoop on the remix to “So Fresh, So Clean.” I don’t mind that track, by the way, but it felt kind of loud when hearing the beat. Another song from FT was actually pretty dope on a lyrical level and the beat wasn’t too bad either. It had an East Coast vibe to it.

One thing that I had noticed when I was younger is that a lot of these hip-hop soundtracks more often than not had to have at least one R&B track for some reason. Now I do like R&B, but it just seemed that there were not a lot of hip-hop movie soundtracks that were top-to-bottom rap. Anyway, I did like the song “Ballad of Jimmy Bones” from Latoiya Williams, as it did relate to the movie and her soulful vocals really captured the feel for the song. As for “This is My Life,” the singer Kedrick has some decent vocals, but it would have been better if CPO had at least another verse, so it could have been equally singing and rapping. I also liked how “Be Thankful” from William Devaughn was added, as that song was played in the movie. It was a shortened version, as there needed to be more room for the other songs. However, I don’t think that the song “Endo” needed to be put in, as I was not sure what the purpose was. Was it an original score track? I know that Fredwreck produced it, but it just didn’t feel like it needed to be on it.

This album had a good amount of variety on here, but it really did not have a horrorcore vibe as a lot of the cuts were gangsta. Some were even good to play at parties. Even 17 years later, this album still holds up.

4/5

Top Five Tracks

  1. The Legend of Jimmy Bones
  2. These Drugs
  3. Memories
  4. Ballad of Jimmy Bones
  5. Fuck With Us
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Album Reviews

Review and History – Royce Da 5’9″ – Rock City

Year of Release: 2002

Record Label: Game Recordings/Columbia/Koch

There is a question that I have in mind about Royce’s debut album: With there being two versions, could it still be considered the same album or two different albums?

What I mean is this: “Rock City” was set to put Royce Da 5’9″ on the map, mainly due to his close association with Eminem as one-half of the duo, Bad Meets Evil. The two had done some songs together such as “Scary Movies” and “Nuttin’ To Do,” as well as “Bad Meets Evil” on Em’s debut album, “The Slim Shady LP.” To be perfectly frank, the two even did the title track for this album. However, this album was delayed over and over again from 2001 to 2002, that at some point Royce changed from Columbia/Sony to Koch Records. The album was originally supposed to be released in 2001, but then got delayed, and also heavily bootlegged. Not to mention that around that same time, Royce had done a song with a Britney Spears clone named Willa Ford. He did recover from that, despite not being that mainstream, as in subsequent albums, he remained true to his style.

One thing that I want to note is that while I consider myself a fan of Royce, I have not followed his catalog in years. I do want to change that, though I wonder where to start, whether it’s his actual albums or even his mixtapes. I have listened to “Hell: The Sequel,” as well as the first Slaughterhouse album, however.

Also, I am going to cover both versions. I must note that I bought the version that was released at Best Buy back in 2003 (That was called “Rock City: Version 2.0”), but the original pressing of the album I did not get until about a year ago when I found it on eBay. Also, there are some differences in the two versions, despite some songs appearing on both versions. Also, some songs on Version 2.0 probably made the album better than the original.

The original version suffered from a lot of songs that seemed to go with the mainstream during that time. One song in particular that seemed different from Royce’s style in subsequent albums is “Get’cha Paper.” While the beat from The Neptunes was actually pretty good, the subject matter that Royce rapped about just seemed a bit off. It was had a bunch braggadocios subject matter about getting money, ladies, and talking about being the King of Detroit. I didn’t mind how the chorus was somewhat reminiscent of “Strawberry Letter 23” from The Brothers Johnson.

One song that appeared on both versions that served as its lead single, and that was “You Can’t Touch Me,” which when listening to it now seems rather dated. It had a decent beat, but really it left a lot more to be desired in the lyrics.

Another thing that was noticeable in both versions was the inclusion of Tre Little in a lot of tracks, as well as that there was a song that included a group that Royce was helping to jumpstart at the time called D-Elite, which Tre seemed to be a part of. What’s funny is how on Version 1.0 had two tracks called “D-Elite,” which were split into two parts, the second of which had the full crew. However, Version 2.0 had only part one on it, which had Royce rapping, but the second part was devoted to showcasing the other members. It was also a part of a trend at the time when an established rapper has a crew and then wants to show the world what they’re made of. For example, Eminem had D12; Nelly had the St. Lunatics. You get the idea.

That is not to say that Version 1.0 did not have any song that had any meaning. A couple of songs in particular were “Life” and “Who Am I,” which actually used the beat to 2Pac’s “Pain” and it fit pretty well. “Life” actually had a somber type of feel and Amerie (Remember her?) provided a good chorus to it, and her vocals went with the overall feel of the song.

That is not to say that Version 2.0 did not have some songs that were not that good, however. Right after the title track came the mediocre “Off Parole,” which felt like it was this version’s “Get’cha Paper.” It even included Tre Little on the track. The only thing that song had going for it was the beat. I was also not too fond of “Mr. Baller,” which had a nice beat, but the rest of it just left a lot more to be desired.

So what are some positives that I can say about the two versions? I must note that one song that I did like on Version 1.0 was “We Live (Danger” and I could possibly be biased because I first heard that song in “Grand Theft Auto III” way back in the day (Who says you can’t find good music through video games?). Royce also did a good job in “Take His Life” from Version 2.0, which had a somber beat to go with it. It talked about some serious subject matter.

Also, both versions had “Boom,” which was one of his first singles. I didn’t know this until recently, but it released as a single when Game Recordings was still around, but was also released on the soundtrack to “Carmen: A Hip-Hopera” (Man, just thinking of THAT makes me feel old; I wonder if anyone even remembers that TV movie).

One thing that must be talked about is that the title track had two different beats on the two versions. If I were to pick which version out of the two that I liked more, I would probably go with the one from Version 1.0. If you want to compare and contrast, be my guest.

I have to say that I give Royce credit for his effort in this album (or these albums how ever you want to look it or them), but “Rock City” was really not all that special looking back. If you listened to this, and then “Death is Certain” and other ones after, you would see a major contrast in style. Now if you did the opposite and followed his career post-Rock City and then wanted to see what he did in his debut, one could probably see that it would not be the Royce he/she came to appreciate. I kept one of the versions for so long, but in a lot of ways I am glad that I held on to it. While the other one was done for collecting purposes. I would only recommend it for die-hard Royce fans and collectors, but for those who are interested in checking out where Royce started off, just start with either the early Bad Meets Evil stuff or just start with “Death is Certain.”

V1 – 2.5/5

V2 – 3/5

Top 5 Tracks from Version 1.0

  1. We Live (Danger)
  2. Boom
  3. Life
  4. Who Am I
  5. D-Elite Part 2

Top 5 Tracks from Version 2.0

  1. Life
  2. Soldier’s Story
  3. King of Kings
  4. Who Am I
  5. My Friend

Also, here was the original artwork for Version 1.0

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Rap Movie Reviews

Movie Review – Blindspotting

Year of Release: 2018

Production Companies: Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films/Codeblack Films/Snoot Entertainment

It can be said that there are times that a certain film that you watch that can make you feel uncomfortable, but it a positive way rather than a negative way. There are plenty of films that can and will do that to the view, and Blindspotting is definitely no exception.

This film not only stars Daveed Diggs, who starred in 2015’s Broadway Musical, Hamilton, and Rafael Casal, but this film was a passion project for these two as they had also written the film. The duo were the film’s leads, though most of the focus was on Diggs’s character, Collin, who was on his final few days of a year-long probation for a crime he committed. Casal played Miles, Collin’s hot-headed best friend who embraces the “thug life” and showed quite a disdain for the gentrification of Oakland, Calif., where this film was set and shot.

The story plays out with Collin trying to keep himself out of trouble for those last few days as he lives in a probationary home and has a curfew. However, one night while he was at an intersection, he saw a young black man running from cops and also witnessed the young man’s murder. For those last few days, he has to deal with what he witnessed, and try his hardest to keep himself out of trouble. On the positive side of things, he has his ex-girlfriend Val, played by Janina Gavankar, showing him that sometimes loyalty to toxic friends can lead to trouble. While Miles feels that he always has something to prove, with him being a white guy in a not-so-good area.

Prior to seeing this film, I had read that it was one of this year’s must-see films at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie had a really low budget, as it was obvious that it was actually shot around some rough areas in Oakland, but what really captured me when watching it was the direction and the fact that it knew when to shift its tone during the right time. This film mixed humor and drama that some of the humor came from some quirkiness, but even some of the quirkiness blended in with some of the film’s more serious moments. I also liked the director’s style when transitioning into other scenes by taking a closeup of something happening before making a cut into another sequence.

Also, one thing that I had noticed is that the film’s two leads are also rappers themselves. There were some moments in the film when they would start rapping a capella and the subject matter in the rhymes really described some of the hardships of living in a rough neighborhood. I won’t spoil anything, but there was one powerful moment when Diggs’s character started rapping about some hard-hitting subject matter. The delivery and the flow of Diggs made me want to see if he had recorded some music as well. It turns out that he has done an album before called Small Things To a Giant, which I am curious about checking out sometime. Maybe I will download it soon. I also found out that Diggs and Casal had done an EP based around the Collin character, and may release two more in the near future. Now I will need to check these out. The duo had done a video for one of their songs, and I usually don’t say this, but this is FIRE!

I don’t own this video, by the way.

Overall, this film really deserved all the praise that it got. Maybe it’s because I am a sucker for indie films, but I really thought that this movie was that good. As noted before, this made me a bit uncomfortable at times, but there were reasons why when watching it. However, it was good that it didn’t push boundaries when one could have thought it would go somewhere when watching a particular scene. I won’t say what it is, but if you watch it, you’ll know what I mean. I highly recommend it.

5/5

Standard