Category Archives: Documentary

The Freshco & Miz Story [64 Mins Doc]

Even with Moanie Love and her voice, this could be good.

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap – June 2012

I remember seeing an early trailer for this and thinkin it was just another budget affair that probably wouldnt inspire me or educate me. I take that back. Im interested now because the core of the subject matter is less about the artists involved, its about the craft of rapping, although its always nice to see Caz in conversation about how it was actually Barry Manilow & Melle Mel that inspired him. Nice to see that the film will cover the important subject of an individual rappers style, and technique.

The underlying importance of this film is that the millions of worldwide fans who want to know more about the origins of Rap, get to discover the truth behind what the elders grew up with. It is also important because street poetry and the actual ART of rapping and rhyming words is still so integral to the soundtracks of our lives in 2012.

Inside Comedy with David Steinberg [Showtime]

Inside Comedy is currently my favourite TV show. It’s a one-on-one conversational format with veteran writer/ director/ stand-up David Steinberg, and its real basic. The show takes it lead from Steinbergs old 2005 programme Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg, with a simple face-to-face, breaking bread format, highlighting the ‘inspirations and influences’ of comedians and ‘funny people’ as well as ‘intimate memories and career-defining moments’. Things are a little loose in direction at times and the show might seem brief, but the raw, rare and uncensored footage adds to the fabric of this quality production. NB. The only laugh-track is provided organically by the camera and sound crew…

Some of my personal favourites in Comedy appear over the course of the 10 episode investigative mini-season which started 26 January 2012; Chris Rock, Steven Wright, Judd Appatow, Tina Fey, Garry Shandling, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld and Mel Brooks. In terms of the level of talent, its a no-brainer. Steinberg interviews some of the finest comedians alive, going back as far as Jonathan Winters and Don Rickles [Louie CK was probably too busy, at the gym no doubt]…

As a guideline, here’s the Chris Rock episode.

Disco Fever 10th Anniversary party footage from 1986

Documentation of the early days of Hip-Hop and Rap is difficult enough to acquire, lets face it, obtaining the rawest form of Rap on 30 year old cassette recordings of community centre battles are difficult enough to procure. The moving picture footage of Hip-Hop pioneers is even harder to come by than the aural form, whether it’s footage of a park jam with Jazzy Jay, Flash at The Armory or insider scoops from the WKCR days of Stretch & Bobbito. From the TVone photo-play of the Unsung series and the VH1 rockDocs like NY77, to Eli Gessners footage of Stretch & Bobb hard at work in the studios of Columbia University, TV channels and production houses continue to demonstrate the validity of the days of wayback with previously unseen visual documentation. Having the ability to watch a 50minute video with a bunch of Rap superstars of the future, that hasnt seen the light of day in 25 years, is nothing short of miraculous IMO.

This latest drop from the golden olden days features the ‘greatest street club in the world’ as owner Sal Abatiello described it on its 10th Anniversary in 1986. If you truly know Hip-Hop in its embryonic form, youll already know that the first Rap radio show was presented by Sir Juice himself Mr Magic, and of course youll know that Magic co-presented one of the most popular Rap radio shows with Marley Marl, known as the leader of the Juice Crew. Did you know that Mr Magic was originally known as Lucky the Magician when he started his career on PAYG station WHBI [They sold airtime for $75 an hour]. Or did you know that the original JUICE CREW consisted of Sweet G, June Bug, Mr Magic, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Mandingo, Bam-Bam and owner Sal Abatiello?

According to Dan Charnas, who interviewed Mr Magic for his publication The Big Payback in October 2007, the OG Juice Crew All-Stars were the ‘Guys who hung out until dawn, breaking balls, playing cards, drinking and sniffing. They called themselves the “Juice Crew.” Sal even made them special “Juice Rings” to commemorate their degenerate bond’. In the clip above you’ll witness these bonds, these kinships and the connection Sal created at the Fever. Did you know that the Disco Fever was the ‘first club in the country’ to have metal detectors and a gun-check at the door? It’s interesting to note that the Disco Fever was THE first disco to charge for people to get in with sneakers on, it was a dollar to get in if you wore shoes, but it was 5 dollars if you wore sneaks.

In this prime piece of old school proceedings its all about the faces, the dance moves, the leather bombers, the mock necks as well as performances from artists like Run DMC dropping unreleased verses of Peter Piper. Youll see the Kangols and the Cazals, the Def Jam and Cutting Records promo jackets as well as the nauseous sway of the disco lights. It’s about artists like Love Bug Starski performing ‘Live At The Disco Fever’ erm, live at the Disco Fever. Melle Mels ‘energy’ as he describes the ‘old school’ of 1976 during 1986 gives me shudders, as does the shower-cap wearing, ‘green’ dealing Grandmaster Flash in the Style video also contained in this clip.

You wont witness any of the illicit goings on from the ‘back room’ at the Fever in this clip, but you can hear the avuncular way in which Sal [via Sweet G] describes the artists, that even in 1986 had progressed to successes on platforms such as ‘stage, screen & TV’, offering the viewer further evidence of how much of a family affair the Fever really was. The celebratory, kindred nature of the event is high-lighted in Whodinis closing and congregational ‘We Are The World’ type performance of Friends. Live-Aid aint got shit on this ! Run DMC share the stage along-side the Furious 5, Jimmy Spicer, Vandy C, Mr Magic and the Fat Boys as well as every other recording artist in the building that night, while a fresh-faced DJ Red Alert hangs his arm round Sal as they sing the chorus of Friends alongside the two Whodini head-liners. As Rap and Hip-Hop continue to find progression into 2012, its important to remember the innocence of these earlier times, throwbacks are a beautiful thing. More fever here, not forgetting Dante Ross’ interview with Sal for Mass Appeal magazine

From Friday, October 31, 2008 and from the same Vimeo account holder, an incredible Jeff Chang hosted panel discussion with a consummate group of pioneers from the cornerstones of the culture; Joe Conzo, Roxanne Shanté, Popmaster Fabel, Disco Wiz, Pebblee-Poo, Tony Tone, Grandwizard Theodore, Grandmaster Caz & Afrika Bambaataa alongside Born In The Bronx author Johan Kugelberg. As Chang explains during the intro, this is history.

Go See The Documentary

A number of interesting Hip-Hop documentaries have emerged recently, some to be viewed in cinemas, and some destined for the smaller screen. The Tribe Called Quest doc wasnt something we were expecting to gain Nick Broomfield type enlightenment from, but it is one we’d had fancied watching for some time. It appeared a few weeks back, and even though we’ve been sitting on a generously donated avi for that long, we havent had the desire/ opportunity to kick back and watch, so a review of that wee number is in the wings, still.

Ice Cube – LA Raiders Story

We have reservations regarding the Ice T ‘Art Of Rap’ doc and the Ice Cube ‘Behind The Music’ piece was strictly for the tourists, but we did enjoy the Ice Cube directorial story of the LA Raiders and their influence on him and Rap in general during the rise of gangster Rap. It’s a recognised westside connection, and a fascinating watch for anyone that ever rocked a Raiders sweat/ snap-back, wore Flights, pumped NWA, The D.O.C. et al, even if you werent watching the league standings each season.

We were intrigued however to see some investigative reporting on the career of Big Daddy Kane on US channel TVone, from a programme by the name of Unsung [the same show that has covered subjects Roger Troutman, Bootsy, Donny Hathaway and others. TVone also broadcast a 40minute history of Hip-Hops first novelty Rap act, The Fat Boys. As usual, these shows rely on shed-loads of heavyweight archive imagery and numerous pieces of previously unseen gold school footage; watching them perform Jailhouse Rap on Soul Train, as well as captured scenes from Sal Abbatiellos’ Disco Fever. With some great throwback images and expected appearances of familiar rap-singer talking heads types, the docs are interesting insights into the history of some great, and good, Hip-Hop acts of our time.

NY77# 1 –
NY77#2 –

If you havent seen the VH1 rockDocs ‘NY77’, youve missed out on probably the most accurate and detailed film about the embryonic stages of Hip-Hop on film, from the people that created it. Featuring one of the most astutely chosen bunch of talking heads, this still brings home the raw excitement of inner-city life in the ever emulsifying days of 2011; Sweet G, Caz, Disco Wiz, Chris Stein, writer Jimmy Breslin, Richard Hell, Ed Koch, Bam, Jellybean Benitez, Blade TC5, KRS and DJ Hollywood to name a few…

Were still waiting for the DJ Junebug doc to reach British shores, and as much as we are truly passionate about the heady broadcasts of Kool DJ Fred Alerts days on Kiss, we aint holdin out for some incisive Herzog type leanings. While we wait,  trainer tutor Gary Warnett reminded us about a Yo MTV Raps doc, major shouts to Gwar, and his many misanthropic izms..

As well as these, there’s also a mini-doc about the Cella Dwellas [‘If that is your bag’]. A piece on Detroit Hip-Hop and an ‘Untold story of Canadian Hip-Hop’ toboot