Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

A Nine-Year-Old Girl Rocking the Mic, Paying the Bills

May 7, 2009

P-StarOn Saturday I saw the documentary P-Star Rising at the Tribeca Film Festival. It’s the story of nine-year-old rapper P-Star (Priscilla Star Diaz) growing up with her father and sister in Harlem. She is one interesting character, and a genuinely talented emcee; she was writing her own rhymes, battle-rapping on the streets, performing in clubs, and sharing studio time with Remy Ma, all as a nine- and ten-year-old kid.

As cute as she was, it was far from a cutesy/feel-good film. As a young girl, Priscilla became the breadwinner of the family, as the early profits from her music career allowed them to pay all of their bills and move into a more spacious apartment. The family went through a lot of problems, from trying to track down their druggie mother to sorting through trust issues with record executives. And as P-Star’s rap career started to go downhill while she was still only 11 or 12 years old, viewers were left wondering if she and her family (and especially her father) had really been making the right choices.

Check out the trailer here! (I couldn’t embed it.)

Priscilla, her sister, and her father, as well as the filmmaker (Gabriel Noble), were all at the screening to answer questions from the audience. The family seemed to be doing well, and P-Star—upon request—spit a nice verse for us all.

I hope to hear more from P-Star as she gets older!

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Soundtrack: Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot

December 8, 2008

I just watched the documentary Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot, about some of the best high school basketball players in the country coming together for a game in Rucker Park in Harlem. The movie was pretty good, but kind of boring, as I’m not that into basketball.

The soundtrack kept me entertained, though. The movie was made by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, and in all the reviews of the film that I read, the soundtrack was highly praised. But I was surprised to see that the soundtrack is not for sale yet, and there isn’t even a track list anywhere. So I started to figure it out for myself….

Here are the tracks from the movie that I could identify. They’re generally in order, but there are also a lot of songs missing—there were a bunch of jazz and funk and other old-school tunes that I couldn’t identify but I wish I could.

  • 50 Cent – “Hate It Or Love It”
  • Ludacris – “Number One Spot”
  • Kool and the Gang – “Hollywood Swingin'”
  • N.W.A. – “Straight Outta Compton”
  • Fat Joe – “My Lifestyle”
  • Jay-Z – “Lucifer”
  • Staples Singers – “Let’s Do It Again” (written by Curtis Mayfield)
  • Jay-Z – “My 1st Song”
  • House of Pain – “Jump Around”
  • M.I.A. – “Amazon”
  • Nas – “Halftime”
  • Joe Budden – “Pump It Up”
  • M.I.A. – “Pull Up the People”
  • Jay-Z – “Dirt Off Your Shoulders”

Also, somewhere in there there was supposed to be a new song by the Beastie Boys called “Bass Line Is Nice.”

Let me know if you know of anything else I’m missing.

Two heartwarming movies I need to see ASAP

September 11, 2008

Julia at Spin the Truth blogged about two adorable-looking movies about the empowering effects of rock music: Young@Heart, which features 80-year-old rockers who bring down the house at a prison concert; and Girls Rock!, about a camp where girls form rock bands, write songs, and perform, and learn to love themselves along the way. At first I was like, “Oh, another one of those movies?” but I was definitely sold after watching the trailers. I fully expect my eyes to well up while watching these, and then I plan to add them to my list of favorite movies along with Mad Hot Ballroom.

KRS-One does not perform tonight at the East River Park amphitheater

July 31, 2008

I must have gotten confused, because I was getting excited about going to the free KRS-One concert today in NYC, but it turns out it was last Thursday and I already missed it. (Argh—I just found out that I missed a Bahamadia show in Brooklyn last week too, which I’m much more upset about. I am clearly not on top of my game!)

I know KRS-One‘s a hip hop legend and all, but he wasn’t the real reason I was excited about the show. The real reason was the venue: the East River Park amphitheater.

A couple of years ago, after I purchased the first bicycle of my adult life—an old, rusty “Free Spirit” bike with a wide, comfy seat aptly named “Cheeks”—at Recycle a Bicycle in the East Village, I rode over to the East River Park so I could try it out. As I was savoring my newfound freedom and winding though the park, I came across the amphitheater. There was some very indie band playing there, with very few fans and onlookers. It seemed like such a special, secret venue, and I instantly became enamored.

That’s why, two years later, I was simultaneously glued to the screen and jumping up and down with excitement as I watched a rented DVD of Wild Style on a quiet night by myself. Wild Style is an amazing movie from 1982 about the early days of hip hop in the South Bronx. I would recommend it to anyone who lives in New York City, anyone who has been to New York City, or anyone who has thought about coming to New York City. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever listened to hip hop in their life. I would recommend it to anyone whose eyes have brightened or widened or narrowed at the sight of graffiti art or any kind of art.

Anyway, in the movie, the main character is a talented graffiti artist named Zoro (Lee Quiñones). At the climax of the movie, Zoro gets commissioned to paint the entire East River Park amphitheater with one huge mural. (You should see him paint!) And then there’s this amazing hip hop show there with, like, the very first hip hop stars of the city, and they’re coming out of the South Bronx and just getting famous, and the energy in the crowd is just so fresh. You just have to see it, I think.

The soundtrack is awesome too, especially the “South Bronx Subway Rap” by Grandmaster Caz.