Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – How High

Year of Release: 2001

Film Studio: Universal Pictures/Jersey Films/Native Pictures

When I wrote my review of The Wash, at the end of it I had noted about a much funnier movie that came out a month after that one, theatrically, I mean, I actually meant that it was indeed a funnier movie. The funny thing about these two movies is that they came out around the same time, with The Wash having come to theaters in November of 2001, while How High, the movie that this review is about, was released in theaters in December of that same year. So basically they both came out at roughly the end of that year.

A little personal history note, I remember having gone to see How High in theaters with my uncle. I was 15 at the time and being that I was already a big hip-hop head, I figured why not see this considering how I thought the movie looked funny and that I wanted to see Method Man and Redman on the big screen. I also remember being on my winter break at the time, not to mention it was also a few days before Christmas when I saw it.

One thing that will be said is that this film was a riot all the way through, in fact, in comparison to The Wash, it was not only funnier, but it also has a much different tone, which actually worked in this film.

There really isn’t much of a story in this film. It’s pretty basic, really. The story is about Silas (Method Man), a marijuana grower, and Jamal, a stoner, getting into Harvard and changing the Ivy League institution around and trying to get an education, but odds are against them in uptight Dean Cain (I wonder if that was intentional by the writers), played by Obba Babatunde. How they got there was through a spiritual source, if you know what I mean. Silas’s friend, Ivory died earlier on in the film, but because Silas had put his ashes into the soil of a cannabis plant, once he and Jamal smoked the Ivory weed, his ghost appears and helps them get through school. Of course, there is a romantic subplot as Silas becomes enamored with Lauren, played by Lark Voorhies (aka Lisa from Saved By The Bell), who is the girlfriend of secondary antagonist, Bart (Chris Elwood), the typical rich guy who looks down on Silas and Jamal.

Apart from the plot summary, this film is a straight-up stoner comedy that is similar to old Cheech & Chong films, as well as another stoner comedy cult favorite, Half-Baked. The title of the film is also named after the hit song of the same name from the two lead actors. Also, the tone of the film felt like a lowbrow comedy with very little to no ounce of seriousness in it. One part in the film that in another film would be a little more serious didn’t even take out anything humorous.

Also, unlike The Wash, Method Man and Redman had a lot more comedic chemistry than Dre and Snoop did. The thing about this film is that Meth seemed like the closest to being the straight man of the duo while Redman was more of the comedic sidekick. However, Meth had shown some comedic talent in some scenes. Even a few other supporting characters were also funny, like the character of Tuan. He had some excellent comedic timing in his lines. Also, Spalding Gray (RIP) had a hilarious scene as the Black History professor. Check out this scene below:

Also, being that this is a stoner movie, a lot of the references to weed were clever. While there were scenes of the two lead characters smoking and passing blunts and bongs, one of the weed references that was clever was the name of the exam that is needed to get into a good school. It was called “Testing for Higher Credentials.” Put the three first letters of those words together. Also, I noticed one character that wore a hoodie that said “Ivy League” on it and it had a cannabis leaf on it. I would wear a hoodie like that.

I also have to say that Lark Voorhies did a good job in her role as the love interest for Method Man’s character. I don’t think I have seen her in too many films that were given theatrical releases, yet this was one of them. The only other one I can think of is How To Be A Player, but she didn’t have a lot of screen-time in that film. It is a shame of what she has been through over the years and it doesn’t help that people will always see her as Lisa from Saved By The Bell. Plus, she did provide some eye candy in the film. In fact there were a lot of attractive women in this film, including the ever-so-lovely Essence Atkins.

Also, there was a brief cameo from Cypress Hill, who also performed in this film.

On the DVD of this film, there is an audio commentary track from both Method Man and Redman. It was funny to hear these two talk about the film and about certain scenes. Also, it seemed like Method Man was stoned at the start of the commentary. Maybe he actually was. It sure seemed like it. However, as time progressed, the duo really touched on a lot of things about the film. One of the parts that stood out was when Meth talked about Lark Voorhies’s performance, like how she made him think that she actually liked him. Also, there was a part where Meth talked about how he admits that he and Redman aren’t that great of actors but they did what they could in the film, given what they worked with.

How High is definitely a good example of a silly stoner movie done right. Now I am not surprised that this was given some negative reviews at the time of its release. It is really not a movie for everyone. This movie is basically on the same level as Half-Baked in that it had similar humor, not just the fact that there was a lot pot-smoking in the movie. Both films had a lot of crazy shit going on. I know I had mentioned The Wash at the start of this review, but when comparing those two films, How High wins this one. Now I don’t mind The Wash, even though I do believe it was not a good film, this film got a lot more laughs out of me. Both Meth and Redman had a lot of chemistry on-screen and there were plenty of funny moments even from some of the supporting cast, including one of the antagonists of the film. I also forgot to mention that Anna Maria Horsford was in this film as Jamal’s mother, which is funny considering how a few years after she played Meth’s mother on Method & Red (Note to self: Must get back to writing Method & Red episode reviews). Overall, in a nutshell, this was a hilarious movie.

Recommended, especially to hip-hop fans and those who also like to toke.

NEXT UP: The soundtracks to The Wash and How High, but I also have some other ideas in mind.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – The Wash

Year of Release: 2001

Film Studio: Lionsgate Films/Lithium Entertainment Group

When I first thought about reviewing “rap movies,” as I like to call them, I had initially thought about mostly doing reviews on these low-budget, straight-to-video releases that had a good amount of rappers in the cast, or at least ones that have a few in starring roles. A couple of examples that I did were Thicker Than Water and Hot Boyz, one movie that I fell out of love with yet still get a bit nostalgic over. The other being a film that I would rather use as a torture technique to punish someone who wronged me. However, I had also thought about the films that starred rappers that still managed to make it to theaters. Of course I had done a couple already that were given theatrical releases, Bones and Half Past Dead.

What is funny about all of this is that there are a lot of movies that have rappers in them, yet I am unsure on which ones to do and what not to do. Of course, at the moment I have a few in mind that I want to do, at least for the time being. One of those films is 2001’s The Wash.

This film was basically a starring vehicle for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. These two have a lot of chemistry when it comes to music. Hell, those two had collaborated a lot dating back to their days with Death Row. But the question is do they also have that kind of chemistry on screen? Well, that is REALLY good question.

Both men in their roles feel like they are playing themselves. Also, Dre’s character, Sean, is basically the straight man to Snoop’s Dee Loc, who is the wisecracker. In some ways it feels like when Ice Cube played Craig to Chris Tucker’s Smokey in the first Friday film. However, those two had amazing chemistry in that film. In this film, that comedic chemistry is lost on Dre and Snoop, despite having worked well together in music.

I have to also note that Dre and Snoop also have production credits in this film, among a few other people. Which I am like “Huh?” I can only imagine that only so many people can help the production of this film. But where the main thing lies is in the writer/director, DJ Pooh (For those who don’t know, his name is actually Mark Jordan). Of course, this film is not DJ Pooh’s first film credit. He had done some of the writing in Friday (And also played a character in that film) and also had written and directed 3 Strikes, a film that I also must revisit. Not to mention he also had a role in this film (More on this later).

Regarding the film’s story and writing is another part that shows how flawed this film is. In a nutshell this movie is about how Sean got fired from a job and ends up getting a job at, well, The Wash, which is the name of a car wash that has the employees washing cars for customers. So it isn’t one of those car washes where people can drive into and the car gets clean by the machinery. Nor is it a car wash where people can do it on their own with the use of hoses and brushes. It seems like a then-modern-day spin on the 1976 cult classic, Car Wash, but with more of a hip-hop/gangsta twist and no Rose Royce soundtrack to back it but rather rap tracks from Snoop and Dre, along with other hip-hop and R&B artists from Snoop’s label and Dre’s label. However, it seemed to have told three different stories in one film (along with a few subplots), which was one of the film’s problems. It even noted the different plot points on the back of the DVD case.

In the film, part of the plot had Sean, Dre’s character, becoming assistant manager to Mr. Washington (George Wallace), who was also called “Mr. Wash” as a nickname. Being that Sean tried to be an honest and responsible employee, he had gotten on the case of Dee Loc, Snoop’s character, for dealing and smoking weed while on the job and slacking. Of course, this rubbed Dee Loc the wrong way enough that it set up some conflict between the two. I must add that those two started off as friends at the beginning of the film who were also roommates. But then later on another subplot takes over the story which showed how flawed the writing was. The other plot of the film involved a kidnapping by Slim, played by DJ Pooh, who was the film’s antagonist, but he didn’t even show up until much later into the film. It was almost the storyline involving him was shoehorned in.

There were some subplots that seemed rather confusing and some that just finished at the snap of a finger. One example for the latter is a romantic subplot involving Sean and a female customer who he hit on at the car wash under the guise of an insurance salesman, when he happened to have stolen a customer’s jacket to hide that he worked at the car wash. Then of course that subplot was dropped not too long after it was revealed that he lied to her. That subplot was not needed at all and it would not have made a difference if it were out of the movie completely. On the plus side, she was never seen again, so there was no predictable part with her coming back and trying to give their whole thing another chance. As for another subplot, I totally wondered what the deal was with Eminem’s role in the film. He played a character who was fired from the car wash, but all he did was just call Mr. Wash and just threaten him. This was before 8 Mile, by the way, and it seemed like he was doing his Slim Shady persona when doing this film. Although I will say that he got some laughs out of me during his appearances.

One thing that annoyed me is that there was a lot of heavy plugging for the film’s soundtrack and also actually saying that the artists who did some songs were from Dre and Snoop themselves, the film’s lead actors. Okay, I get that they played characters, but it just seems odd how even the actors who played the characters exist in this universe as rappers. I don’t recall the Friday movies making reference to Ice Cube albums or ads with Craig present. In one scene, Tray Deee, one of Tha Eastsidaz and also one of Snoop’s boys from the DPG, was even referred to by his stage name and was acting as a character in this film. So he was basically playing himself and hanging out with a few moronic gangbangers? I didn’t understand it either.

Another thing about the soundtrack, and this is a minor spoiler here, is that in the credits, the video of “Bad Intentions” from Dre and Knoc-Turn’al was shown. It was an uncensored version, by the way, and the actual censored version was an extra on the DVD.

There were also some cameos by Ludacris, Pauly Shore, Shaquille O’Neal, and Xzibit. Also, one of the female characters was played by Truth Hurts, a singer who was on Dre’s label, Aftermath, at the time, but was credited by her real name, Shari Watson. One small note, but there was an appearance by Shawn “Solo” Fonteno, who is best known for playing Franklin Clinton in Grand Theft Auto V. He played Slim’s right-hand man. I also must add that DJ Pooh was the DJ for the West Coast Classics station in GTA V as well. This movie came out 12 years before that game did, but I just thought I’d mention that.

Anyway, this is not a good film, but I don’t hate it. I remember people had told me that it was not good when it came out, especially because I wanted to see it in theaters. According to some sources, it didn’t do well. It was shot on a $7 million budget but only made $10 million in the box office. I wonder if that was domestically. The first time I watched it was when I rented it when it came out on DVD. I had bought the DVD for this film much later and I had recently found it after having lost it. This film is more or less a time-waster or a movie that you can have on as background noise while doing other tasks. It is not a bad way to spend a boring Saturday or Sunday or any other day-off for that matter when you have nothing to do. You can do better but you can do a lot worse, too. I think it is mostly “meh,” if bad in some areas, but then again, a much funnier movie came out a month after this that starred rappers, which I will cover soon.

NEXT UP: HOW HIGH.

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Review: Method & Red Episode 4 – One Tree Hill

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Original Air Date: July 7, 2004

I will say that I have been putting off continuing my series of Method & Red episode reviews, but I will also point out that I still planned to finish them. I took the month of October off to do other pieces on other things and now we are more than halfway through November, it is time to continue this. I will also point out that I have plans for December as I will do a review on the Christmas on Death Row album, along with High Fo’ Xmas from West Coast Bad Boyz, which is a No Limit album. At the moment, I can’t think of other things that are Christmas-related that I might do, but I will do those for sure.

Now onto the review of this episode.

The first thing that I must point out is that yes, this episode is entitled One Tree Hill, and it shared the name of a relatively popular drama series that was on around the time this episode aired. I wonder if the people at the WB got on the people at Fox for the use of the name. Anyway, this episode’s plot has to do with Red and Meth becoming presidents of the Neighborhood Homeowner’s Association and then they get mad with power that they forget about other things. The episode’s title is derived from the fact that Meth’s mother, Dorothea, has a tree in their yard that she had been planting for years and it meant a lot to her.

Regarding the episode’s quality, while it was still a bit over the top in some areas, it actually conveyed a decent message in the end. The one thing that it really did not need is to repeat a gag twice, however. It got a chuckle out of me the first time, but when it was done the second time it wasn’t as funny. It also felt different than the previous episodes considering how Meth and Red were a lot more antagonistic to Nancy in this episode as they had more of the upper hand on her than before. I get that despite the two being presented as protagonists that they aren’t exactly “good guys,” but in this episode they looked more like assholes than before. However, it might be the point as the two got mad with power and things got worse for them later.

Until I watched this episode I had forgotten about this one. I mostly remember when Nancy told Method Man and Redman about what led to their inevitable fall from grace at the end of the episode. I can’t complain too much about the writing as it was a little different than what had been seen so far. I just didn’t like how Red and Meth were portrayed for the most part in the episode, but like I also said, it conveyed an average message about how power can get the better of someone and that they tend to forget about other things that are more important. It might be least favorite episode yet, but I didn’t hate it as I was still entertained.

Next up, Episode 5. Stay tuned.

Preview and editorial: Method and Red TV series

Review: Method & Red Episode 1 – Pilot

Review: Method & Red Episode 2 – The Article

Review: Method & Red Episode 3 – Well Well Well

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My take on Watch The Stove.

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When I heard about this, I wondered “What the hell is this?!” I saw the cover art on my Twitter feed around the time it came out and saw that the cover art reminded me of the cover to “Watch The Throne” from Kanye West and Jay-Z. I was not sure if it was a real album or just fan-made artwork until I found out that it was a mixtape that was put together. The idea of Hamburger Helper putting out a mixtape and having recording artists rapping and/or singing about its food seemed really odd to me, and then I read that it was the point. Sources have said that it was an April Fools joke and that it was meant to be funny. The truth about this mixtape is that it was no joke. What really matters is the quality of the production and the lyrics, no matter what the subject matter is.

In a lot of ways I feel that I should have written about this around the time it came out. Oh well, better late than never, right?

The song “Feed The Streets” has a sick beat to it and the lyrics talk about cooking food and beef with lean. Never would I have thought that raps about cooking food would sound interesting.

“In Love With The Glove” was a rather mellow song and it reminded me of some stuff that Drake had done when he sang on his songs. The guy who sang actually has a good voice. The funny thing about this song is that if you don’t listen to the lyrics, you won’t realize that he sang about food.

I have to say that the song “Food For Your Soul” has the feel of a mellow rap song similar to songs from Talib Kweli or A Tribe Called Quest. The guy who rapped on the track has a decent flow and he just straight rapped one whole verse in this song. Plus, the song is a little different as it isn’t about exactly about the food you eat, but it rather stuff to learn. Hence its title.

When I listened to “Hamburger Helper,” it reminded me of some songs from T.I., and I am unsure if that is what the people involved went for, but it was one of the best tracks that I heard on this mixtape. However, I can’t say the same thing about “Crazy,” which for the majority of it drove me, well, crazy. Not a terrible song, but it was a little repetitive at first until the second half of it.

Never would I have thought that a rap mixtape that Hamburger Helper released would have actually been solid. I mean, sure, the subject matter on most of the songs was odd, but if you listened to it, the topics can be looked past and you can still bump to the music. Was it the greatest thing I have ever heard? No, but it’s far from the worst. In fact, it wasn’t bad at all. I recommend you check this out. You have to hear it to believe it.

If you want to hear it, check it out here. Peace!

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