How Did Drake End Up Being So Far Gone?

Much of the criticism of Canadian singer/actor/rapper Drake has centered around his image–he’s alternatively been Wheelchair Jimmy from Degrassi; softer than cottonballs and baby thighs; a Canadian rapper wannabe who has the unfortunate habit of adding “AWWWWW” to the end of every stanza. I’m low-key thankful for this; without it we wouldn’t have the truly hilarious Big Ghost Chronicles review of Drake’s Take Care album, or, for that matter, Big Ghost’s truly hilarious review of Drake’s life. I have cried real tears of laughter at Big Ghost’s apt descriptions of Drake as a “human croissant”, or the only person in the world capable of turning sandpaper into moist towelettes, or Young Garnier Fructis aka The Kitten Whisperer aka the dude who holds down the top three spots of the softest rapper top ten lists. Big Ghost Chronicles isn’t unique in its antagonism of Drake (although it’s gotta be the best). Other people have gone in on him, from comments sections on hip hop sites to Common with his diss verse on the “Stay Schemin” Remix.  But while these characterizations might be deserved due to his own actions, they are unfortunate. That’s because Drake had, and may still have, the potential to actually be one of the greatest rappers of his generation. I already know how that probably sounds. Continue reading

Belly: You Don’t Realize How Good This Movie Actually Is

 

Belly is one of the most important movies in the history of Black cinema.

Yeah, I said it, and I’m not afraid of any of y’all. This movie is hotly debated among Black people. “It looks like a music video.” “It’s dark. No, not the mood, the lighting.” “It makes no sense.” “What is that movie even supposed to be about?”  “That’s what happens when you give rappers acting jobs.” “That’s why they never should’ve given these people money.”

Is the movie a cinematic masterpiece? In a word, no. But it’s valuable because it captured so much of the ethos of the time it came out, in 1998. For one thing, it showed things as they were in people’s heads, and reflected how they interacted with the culture. Kids today won’t understand, but people actually used to sit around the TV watching hours and hours of music videos. You’d wait for a music video you really loved to come on, and you’d discover entirely new music that way. Music videos had reached the level of short feature films. The budgets had grown huge and production values had gone through the roof. You’d see helicopters, speedboats, exotic locations, explosions, quality computer generated images, and crazy cameo appearances. Music videos started to get to be longer than the actual songs. At R. Kelly’s peak, his “Down Low” video series was epic. They singlehandedly reenergized Ron Isley’s career as Mr. Big. R. Kelly kept on banging Mr. Big’s women, until finally Mr. Big had him beat down and dropped off to die in the desert. For a while, there was talk of an R. Kelly/Mr. Big movie, WHICH I WOULD STILL GLADLY PAY MONEY TO SEE. During that time, Hype Williams was one of the most prolific and sought after video directors. So it was inevitable that he would one day make a feature length film, and when he did, its opening sequence would look like this. I’m sorry I can’t embed it, but you need to click on that link. I can say this without hyperbole: I’m going to let you finish, but Hype Williams created one of the greatest opening film sequences of all time. Of course it looks like a music video. It’s the point. The music videoness of it makes the scene matter as much as it does. And that sequence breathed new life into Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life.” I can’t even hear that song without thinking about a slow motion robbery happening under ultraviolet lights. Continue Reading