Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Fear of a Black Hat" will stitch you up

But it helps if you can recognize 80's/90's rap and hip hop. I missed "CB4," but this movie has to be better. How can I say that? "FoaBH" is a hidden gem among 90's comedy, and it's brilliantly acted and scripted. Is "CB4" better than great?...

Well, the numbers aren't always perfect, but "Fear" has 84% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. "CB4" has a 55% approval rating. I'm with RT on this one, obviously.

1994's "Fear of a Black Hat" is, basically, "Spinal Tap" for a rap group. A female filmmaker documents the long and varied career of NWH (Niggaz With Hats), a rising rap trio. It's exciting because Tasty Taste, Ice Cold, and Tone Def are fun guys confronted by the perils of the rap world - violence, confusion, censors. Throughout the pic, we shift between the filmmaker's questions and fly-on-the-wall scenes, as well as music videos.

Simply put, every part of this movie is funny. The jokes pop, in scenes and interviews. When asked what political message exists in the song "Booty Juice," Ice smoothly starts, "the butt is like society..." The music videos are a blast. For one one thing, the lyrics and titles are great (e.g., "Don't Shoot Til You See the Whites"). You'll laugh harder if you can spot references to Run DMC, LL Cool J, C&C Music Factory, PM Dawn...

In fact, "FoaBH" surpasses its inspiration (imo). It's funnier than "Spinal Tap," while maintaining a satire of the music industry. Competition, white rappers, protesters, out-of-touch music execs - they're all brought into the story smoothly enough. I love the names of other acts: "Ice Tray, Ice Coffee, Ice Water... Ice Box."

The cast is great, especially our band: Taste-T (Larry B. Scott, Lamar from "Revenge of the Nerds"), Ice (Rusty Cundieff, director "Chappelle's Show"), and Tone (Mark Christopher Lawrence from "Chuck"). Scott's my favorite - often violent and paranoid, yet occasionally thoughtful out of the blue; watch his face when he's with record execs. Does anyone remember Kris Kross? Exceptional. On dvd, watch the extra music videos.

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