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

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Album Review: West Coast Bad Boyz – High Fo’ Xmas

west-coast-bad-boyz-hi-fo-xmas

Year: 1994

Label: No Limit Records/Solar Music Group

Track Listing:

  1. High Fo’ Xmas
  2. Intro
  3. Lock Up Fo’ Xmas
  4. Talk
  5. Jacking Fo Da Holidays
  6. Chillin’ N Da Game
  7. Ghetto Nite
  8. Christmas In Da Ghetto
  9. Hood Carols
  10. Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party
  11. No Limit Party

So now I am continuing with my Christmas/holiday special. I held on to my promise to do the compilation of “High Fo’ Xmas” from West Coast Bad Boyz. This is a No Limit album, by the way, and unlike “Christmas On Death Row,” this isn’t a traditional holiday album and I will admit that I bought this album as kind of a counter to the Death Row album. I saw that this wasn’t a family-friendly Christmas album to begin with.

If anything I bought this as a joke on my part. It wouldn’t be the first time that I heard some Christmas rap song that isn’t really appropriate to listen to. “Merry Muthaphuckkin Xmas” from Eazy-E is a rather humorous song that spoofs Christmas songs. Some songs on here are similar to that, and then you also have songs that didn’t need to be on this album to begin with.

I will note that this album came out in the days when No Limit still represented the West Coast, particularly the Bay Area. This was before they became a more south-based label when they had those gaudy Pen & Pixel album covers. Hence why this was a West Coast Bad Boyz compilation.

One thing that really got me about this album was that it had the intro as the second track, when the intro is often the first track of the album.

Anyway, a lot of the tracks on this album varied and mentioned Christmas and the holidays in passing, but there weren’t that many tracks that were about Christmas. For example, the opening track, which was also the title track, talks about getting high around the holidays in one of the verses, but then the rest has little reference to the holidays. Not a bad track. It has a laid-back beat that has the feel of a stoner song. Hence the name.

“Lock Up Fo Xmas” was similar in that it talked about being locked up during Christmastime but then went into the struggles of being locked up. King George, a rapper who I am really unfamiliar with, actually had good verses in this song. So this was actually a decent track. I will say the same thing, or maybe that this song was better, when thinking of “Jacking Fo Da Holidays,” as that song used a lot of beats from different songs ranging from “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” from Bone Thugs to “Funkdafied” from Da Brat. There were a lot of beats used on this song to name, and it was funny to hear P try to rap some of the verses similar to the rappers from each respective song.

One song that drew my attention prior to buying this album was “Christmas in da Ghetto” and it’s kind of a strange track to listen to as there is some transition in beats when listening to the chorus and the verses. One minute you would hear the chorus, which is similar to “Deck The Halls,” and then when you hear the verses from C-Murder and Master P, it has a totally different beat. I will add that when I listened to one verse from C-Murder, it reminded me of a song from RBL Posse, particularly from their album, “A Lesson To Be Learned.”

“Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party” is another decent track from other No Limit rappers during that time, Big Ed (RIP), Lil Ric, and Dangerous Dame.

Keeping with the Christmas theme that this album has, a couple of interludes had different versions of traditional Christmas carols, like “Ghetto Nite” was a different take on “Silent Night.” While the “Hood Carols” was Master P singing his own rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” It’s actually rather humorous.

Remember when I said that there were tracks that felt like they belonged somewhere else? Well, those two songs are “Chillin’ in Da Game” and “No Limit Party,” which the latter is a remix. They have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but they are decent tracks nonetheless. I now wonder where I could find the original version to “No Limit Party.”

The only thing that I have an issue with about this album is that it really didn’t have the feel of a gangsta rap Christmas album. Sure, there were songs that talked about getting high, the drug game or hard time around the holidays, but take that part away and it really wouldn’t have made a difference. It’s still a decent compilation, though. I plan to do other No Limit albums in the future and I know that there are a lot out there.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Jacking Fo Da Holidays
  2. Christmas In Da Ghetto
  3. Lock Up Fo Xmas
  4. High Fo’ Xmas
  5. Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party
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