Aspiring emcee DJay works the angles to get his first record made with help from assorted people in his Memphis 'hood. And when he hears that hip-hop superstar Skinny Black is heading to his area, he throws together a supreme hustle to grab Skinny's attention. Written by
There are numerous references to Memphis-based musicians in the film: The character of Shelby was named after Shelby Bryant, a singer-songwriter from Memphis. In one scene, Shelby is wearing a T-shirt with the logo of Sam Phillips's Memphis Recording Service studio. In another scene, Shelby wears a T-shirt of Lucero, a local country-rock band. Many of the studio musicians who played for Stax Records, the legendary Memphis-based record label, play on the original score. Isaac Hayes, who plays Arnel, recorded for Stax Records. The cover of the 1974 Stax album "Victim of the Joke?" by Memphian David Porter is stapled to DJay's work table. Otis Redding, who also recorded for Stax Records, is mentioned in one scene. Al Green's song "Jesus is Waiting" is heard during one scene. Memphis native Josey Scott of the band Saliva, appears as a store owner. Members of the popular rap group Three 6 Mafia appear in the film. Paul Beauregard plays DJay's neighbor and Jordan Houston plays Skinny Black's brother. Haystak, Free Sol and Al Kapone are local rappers who appear in the film. See more »
In the room when DJay first plays his keyboard, the dirt pattern on the door behind him changes drastically when the scene changes. See more »
Saw it at the Los Angeles Film festival as well....
...and I enjoyed it. What saves the film from being just another badly made 'hood flick, is Terrence Howard. I am so glad Craig cast an actor and not a rapper to play the lead. Terrence brings depth of character, pathos, and sympathy to a low brow pimp with low quality product to hustle.
This movie could've turned out bad with clichéd acting and over the top performances (there were moments where I felt his strip club whore was too much), but what makes you stick with the story, is that you really feel sorry for these people and you want them to succeed. The producer Stephanie Allain was at the L.A. premiere, and said that the character wanting to have a dream of better things was the universal theme that struck her. Craig (the director) also said that the story used bits and pieces of his own life and people he has met in Memphis to craft a story that really does happen to a lot of black people trying to get into the rap game. True, the hook of the story, a pimp wanting to be a rapper, sounds really funny. Lord knows if Mike Epps or Brian Hooks (or God forbid, Snoop) had been cast in the lead, this movie would've turned booty real quick. But once again, Terrence Howard makes this story come alive. I enjoy rap, but don't find crunk and a lot of lyrics enjoyable, but I must admit, in the context of the world it comes from and the hopes that these characters have, I was one of many people (the black ones in particular) who found myself swaying and singing the lyrics to "Whoop that Trick" et al.
As for the person on this board who commented that he too was at the Los Angeles Film Festival and found the white characters "acting black" tiresome, it must be said that in the south, black speech patterns and culture get picked up by whites. Living in close proximity creates that, and I didn't feel that the white characters were playing black. There was one comment in the movie where DJ Qualls arrives and Terrenc Howards character pulls Anthony Anderson aside and and questions the white boy's skills as a beat junkie, but that was the only time his color was brought up. But it was natural, no different than guys from Metallica questioning the skills of a black dude auditioning for a guitar gig. The subtext was simply "Does this dude even listen to crunk music?" Once his skills are proved, there is no question of race anymore.
The film should do well. I will see it again with my mother. Yes my mother. She loves Terrence Howard as much as I do, and I feel the movie should have a wide audience, young and old (with parental supervision). I enjoy watching Terrence Howard work, he makes you feel everything he feels on screen, and if this thing doesn't make him blow up, I don't know what will. He is the movie. See it for yourself and decide for yourself. Cuz it's hard out here for a pimp, ya'all.
Ps. For those feminists who get their panties all twisted because of any images of female exploitation, I must comment that all the women in this film (as broke down and trashy as they are) have dreams too, and Terrence's character realizes that they deserve better and strives to help them by helping himself. There is no such thing as a good pimp (like there is no such thing as a good slave master) but what redeems Terrence is that his pimp transforms his life and all those around him for the better.
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