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“On the Incensing Lack of Props for Music Movies in America”

When Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap was wiped out of the theater spotlight in 2012, before it even surfaced, I knew the end of the world had already come. Chances are, all the movies in the theater at that time were over-budgeted jerk-offs of the comic book industry or gruesome horror films (which have their place, sure) — anything to alter and shred the current imagery we carry around in our lives, anything to avoid the reality, the documentation, of that very extant imagery.

Now it’s SLC Punk 2 — not even given a spot in our biggest theater here (South Bend, IN), which granted isn’t a very “punk” town. Still, the people who have SEEN the first SLC Punk! love it, and can quote while laughing various scenes (which had to do with drugs, usually). Plus, you’d think rednecks would be won over by the opening scene, ya know… it’s all about them!
You pretty much need crime in a movie’s plot to sell it — that’s the basic objective strategy, which is why the one music flick that did gross a lot (not to mention probably BEING gross) recently was about “gangsta” rap, and not the original art form. Obviously, those guys appealed to a lot of people, but Snoop Dogg just requested a tour with Kendrick Lamar and didn’t get it, so I can’t help but be skeptical about Lamar’s enthusiasm over the whole thing. On the flipside of things, you’d be hard pressed to find an album that more heavily influenced To Pimp a Butterfly than Mos Def’s similarly Grammy nominated The Ecstatic, and Def is featured in Ice-T’s documentary both in a freestyle segment, and in the form of his music (The Ecstatic’s “Quiet Dog”) soundtracking.
So sure, Kendrick Lamar might be music’s last gasp before we enter a phase of just computers and killing in not only movies, but in our actual everyday psyches and cognitions. But his ties to true, organic hip-hop are undeniable, largely for his “humility.” [1] I think to an extent we all have to be humble in out everyday lives in order to fit in, and so there’s no room for stuff like this at the cinema anymore.
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[1] In “How Much a Dollar Cost” Lamar betokens the one thing no one ever thinks to in rap with the timeless line “All we need is one humble man.”

 

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