I have to admit, I've been in a time warp when it comes to music lately (I'll take Sade and Public Enemy easily over Lil Wayne). However, when the Watch The Throne album by Jay-Z and Kanye West dropped recently, I had to stop and take notice.
While the opinions of the album ran the gamut (Ava DuVernay calls it a "Black Nationalist Masterpiece for the New Millenium" HERE), I was more impressed that this genre of music can still generate so much frenzied anticipation and is still relevant thirty plus years later since its inception. That got me thinking...What can the new, emerging black film movement learn from the hip hop scene? Yes, I know hip hop has its share of ugliness but what positive pointers can we take away and apply?
Here's my list:
Collaborations. Rap musicians are famous for coming together on projects. I've been surprised at how I don't see this as much on the filmmaking front, so I was ecstatic when I heard that director Dennis Dortch offered to direct the latest episode of webseries creator Issae Rae's Misadventures Of Awkward Black Girl. Hopefully, he won't be the last and maybe some of the known actors/actresses that like the series can join as well.
Boldness. It would be nice to see more productions that are brazen in content and style, not necessarily provocative...just unapologetically bold. Hip hop built its foundation on this principle.
Black is always in vogue. There have been a number of debates and discussions on this blog about whether the term "black" is a negative or positive when attached to a film. Rap music has never shunned this issue. Blackness is embraced wholeheartedly. In fact, it's the one, consistently positive attribute in the hip hop world.
What's old is new again. Let's face it, there aren't really "new" stories when it comes to filmmaking. Practically every subject you can think of has been explored. How you stand out from the crowd today is in the way you package and tell a story which is a big premise of rap music.
Create a clique or crew. This is a time-honored tradition in the hip hop world. Having a crew means you not only share interest and endeavors, you also have an inherent support system.
Pay it forward. This concept not only helps your future karma, it can be financially lucrative as well. When rap moguls pluck unknowns and take them under their wing, the rewards usually return like a boomerang.
Stay hungry. Artist in this category usually excel because they base success on achieving greatness in their work...not money.
Those are just a few of my observations. What do you think? Below is the "Otis" video from two of the best.