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Monday, February 22, 2010

Rapper’s Delight

rappin15 The 80’s were littered with Hip-Hop influenced movies with films like Wild Style, Breakin’, Beat Street, and so on and so forth. For what it’s worth, I love this genre, which I will dub Hip-Hopsploitation since many of them were taking something new and popular, and capitalizing on it (which is still very common today). Some of these films are actually pretty solid, namely the ones I mention above, but there are the few that are a little less respectable, but still oh-so-fun. These movies are a window into the past, a window that’s view is filled with crazy bad outfits, hair styles, and people that probably shouldn’t be picking up a mic for any reason at all.

rappin2 One of those people that probably shouldn’t have spit any lyrics, is the man known as Mario Van Peebles, in the 1985 film, Rappin’! But boy am I glad he did. Rappin’ is the tale of “Rappin’” John Hood (MVP), whom after getting out of jail, comes back home to find a lot has changed since he went away. Some of his old associates have formed a new rival gang, his girl is dating the gangs leader, and some corporate scum bags are trying to take over the neighborhood by getting rid of the tenants so they can build…I don’t know, something. Probably a mall, or nice houses…the usual.

rappin1 I think you might have an idea where this film is going from this point, as Rappin’ is many clichés of the genre all “rapped” into one Hip-Hop extravaganza. I don’t even know where to begin with this film, but there is a lot to say for many different reasons. First of all, the movie is certainly not on par with some of the best the genre has to offer, but damn, is it a lot of fun. Some of the rappin’ is so bad and many of the people behind these verbal assaults are far from skilled at the art of rhyme. The biggest offender is certainly MVP, with his monotone voice and lack of natural flow, but it’s MVP’s lack of skill that makes the movie all the more entertaining.

The Many Faces of Hip-Hop

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There are a few familiar faces that show up in Rappin’, besides MVP, of course. There’s Kadeem Hardison, and soul glow himself, Eric La Salle who make up a portion of John Hood’s crew. Also, Hood’s little brother is played by Leo O’Brien, who was in The Last Dragon, a film that gave us our most recent Monster of the Week. Along with familiar faces, the film’s director, Joel Silberg, is treading some very familiar territory with Rappin’. He also directed the before mentioned, Breakin’ as well as the sultry dance movie, Lambada (Totally should have been called, Lambada-in’). So he clearly has a certain thing he does and it would seem he is the guy to call when making a movie that is meant to exploit the latest fad in Urban culture. Though, he did direct Catch the Heat, so that makes his resume all the more versatile. 

rappin4 Some of the dialogue is beyond classic, with one scene where a record producer asks Hood if he’s ever rapped before, in which Hood respond’s with “No, but I got a record!” Get it?! When it comes to classic dialogue, no one is better than John Hoods arch rival, Duane (Charles Flohe). First off, he has great feathered hair and while he looks perfect to play the part of a rich, white, asshole bully, he is so unconvincing as a street thug. As for some of his choicest lines – “Don’t make me thaw you out, Ice!” When referring to La Salle’s character, who’s name is Ice. Then there’s the moment when Duane grabs Hood’s love interest by the arm kind of harshly, and Hood says “Hey, don’t be so rough on her” or something to that effect. Duane quickly responds with “Hey? Hay is for horses!” Good one, Duane, but I think you forgot about the better for cows part. 

rappin9 While this film is not the best of the best, it is very fun and a major reason for that is what I like to call, “random acts of Hip-Hop” that occur throughout Rappin’. The viewer is never safe from a random outbreak of rhymes and song from the characters – it can happen at anytime, any place, and anything can set it off. And you know what, even though many of the skills on display are lacking and the lyrics are weak, they certainly are very enjoyable scenes and for some reason, brought a shit eating grin to my face. I wish I could go over them all, but that would take forever, and I’m already at 763 words, so I need to tie things up soon.

rappin8 I do have to mention Rappin’s end credit sequence, where each of the film’s characters, spit a lyric or two as their name goes by. This includes an old Asian dude, an old Jewish dude, a white, middle aged mother AND her daughter, and many, many more. It’s fucking gold. Then, there is the scene when the people of the neighborhood are trying to fight to stay in their homes and not be driven out. When all else fails, “Rappin’” John Hood and his Merry Men show up and use the influence of rap to convince the city council to their side, so they can stay in their hood! Again, fucking gold. And don’t even get me started on Snack Attack.

So, if you are a fan of this type of film, or Hip-Hop culture, or bad outfits and hair styles of the past, Rappin’ is a blast. It’s plot is messy and it tries to be too many things, but it does succeed at delivering some truly entertaining scenes and some funny moments. Plus, a 10 year old me makes an appearance. 

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Thanks for pointing this one out to me, Emily…you rock the party like no one else!

12 comments:

  1. I completely forgot about this movie--perhaps on purpose, but I can't deny that I watched it a lot on cable back in the day along with the Breakin' movies, Krush Groove, and even Disorderlies.

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  2. Ha ha, Disorderlies...I used to love that movie! I have always had a major soft spot for Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo for some reason and have watched that film way too many times!

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  3. I can't express how happy I am that you enjoyed Rappin. My friends and I saw the VHS box a few years back and simply had no choice but to rent it, which may very well have been the best decision I've made in my entire life. I won't lie: I still sing Snack Attack when I'm hungry and in times of inspiration to overcome all odds, nothing beats that rousing cast-wide performance of the finale (my personal favorite is the lawyer who sings about righting his wrongs, or maybe the villain for trying to add a country spin).

    Also, by far the best line during a near violent altercation in the men's room, MVP, for no apparent reason, points his finger to the door and shouts "Bathroom fool!" Well said, well said indeed.

    Oh! And for a more risque companion film, check out Tougher Than Leather, the RUN DMC film. Good times, although I prefer the innocence of Rappin any day.

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  4. Matt - That looks freakin awesome. I'm gonna try to find it somewhere.

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  5. Emily: I used to love Tougher Than Leather! I haven't seen it in years, but I remember the Beastie Boys were in it too...I need to see that shit again!

    As for great musical scene, I love when Hood and bro rap for grandma, and then she almost breaks out a rhyme of her own! I wish she didn't get cut off! I also love the scene with all the little kids...some of them looked like they had no clue what was going on around them!

    It's funny you bring up the bathroom scene, only because I wanted to bring it up, but the review was getting a little long already. I love when MVP storms the bathroom and kicks the stall door in on that dude taking a shit! Then the dude run's away with an un-wiped ass!! Man, I could just keep going at the greatness of Rappin'!

    I can't thank you enough for this one, Emily!

    Jaded: I rented it through Netflix, so you can definitely get it there. I'm sure you could probably find a place online to watch it too, if you feel so inclined. The movie is powerful and will bring you to your knees!

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  6. Way to give a shout-out to the days of classic rap! I love the sub-genre of '80s rap films - even though at the time they were supposed to reflect "the street," there's a wide-eyed innocence to these films that's totally endearing today.

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  7. This film sounds hilarious. Liked the description about them rappin their point of view across to the city official guys. I mean, why would they think that would work!??

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  8. That was too much bad 80's hip hop movie assault on me!

    That's really you?!?!?!

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  9. Jeff: I think it's the innocence that make these films so great...there are Urban music and dance films made all the time, but nowadays, they seem to lack that certain something that makes them fun. But maybe in 20 years current films of that nature will be looked at the way we look back at film like Rappin'. But they won't star MVP, so maybe not!

    Jim: Not to spoil the movie or anything, but the lyrical slaughter they lay down for the city council is very convincing! It's so funny when MVP comes in and starts rhyming, one of the councilmen says, "what is this gibberish?" and MVP says "It's rap, it's how we express ourselves!" It's great!

    Ashlee: Ha, ha, no, it's not me! He was in the movie, thankfully, but he looks a little like me at that age, though I was much cuter!

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  10. Rappin in particular has a genuine sense of innocence. There's no real violence or sex, and I bet this could remain an easy PG film if rated today.

    And those singing kids are aDORable!

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  11. i remember seeing this and the Breakin' movies and thinking "christ this is so weak and stupid" but not being able to resist watching it. never knew who directed them though. When the go to guy for directing a movie about hip hop is Silberg boy are you in trouble.

    and the Breakin movies were funny because Turbo would have to go to say the hardware store or something and every person he passed (construction workers, bus drivers, old white ladies) would be poppin and lockin in a big production number. way to keep it street Silberg

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  12. I think the lack of street cred makes the movies all the more fun...you just can't take them seriously and it's so funny that that is what "someone" thought life on the streets was like! Once the old people and the straight laced businessmen see how fun Hip-Hop can be, they'll all join in!

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