Let's face it: hip-hop is dead. Maybe I'm part of a generation that can't get used to mainstream music that the radio continues to crank out. Call me a hater. Call me old. I'm fine with that. Nowadays, it's not even about the music and/or the message, but something that's overly produced with some nonsensical lyrics attached to it that will make you dance like you have two left feet (okay, I'm a hater). I'm not even going to point any fingers as I don't want any Twitter wars left on my doorstep. Whatever happened to the likes of A Tribe Called Quest (can someone go ahead and play "Clap Your Hands" for me?) or Wu-Tang Clan (even though Martin Shkreli, pharmaceutical entrepreneur slash most hated man in America, has their latest and only $2 million album created)?
But I digress.
If the radio continues to force that hip-pop on me, then all is definitely lost.
There are a few artists out there that are truly down for their music, such as Kendrick Lamar (who I'm naming as the next Tupac). Give his last three albums a chance and listen to what he has to say about his upbringing and present day state of mind (Section.80, Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, and instaclassic, To Pimp a Butterfly). There's definitely a lot more creative and thoughtful artists out there besides Lamar, but I have truly given up on current day "hip-hop". If the radio continues to force that hip-pop on me, then all is definitely lost.
VH1's, The Breaks, is a welcome breath of fresh air that definitely gives the viewer a taste of what real music was like back in the day.
Enter VH1's original movie, The Breaks. You can't beat nineties hip-hop and this movie gave me all the feels. Taking place in nineties New York, The Breaks centers around a wet behind the ears, naïve trio, looking to get their foot into the door of the world of hip-hop. Afton Williams (who has a number of credited roles, including Showtime's Banshee) plays the main character Nikki, who dropped her scholarship to law school to get her foot in the music industry, starting with the lovely job of cleaning toilets. "Mack" Tristan Wilds (who was excellent on The Wire) plays DeeVee, a DJ/producer looking for the next big artist, whose father, played by Wu-Tang's Method Man, is whole-heartedly against. David Call, playing a character with the same name, as Nikki's boyfriend, who works at an all R&B music radio station that won't cut him any slack. Besides having a great storyline with fantastic actors, this movie is a welcome breath of fresh air that definitely gives the viewer a taste of what real music was like back in the day. The movie even had a whole rap battle scene that was almost as good as the last fifteen minutes of Eminem's 8 Mile.
The nineties setting gives off an even stronger vibe of nostalgia, from the fashion to the music, that hooks the viewer in from the beginning to the end...
It's these three characters that make you fall in love with their hustle - they'll do whatever it takes in order to be seen and heard, in order to follow their dreams. The nineties setting gives off an even stronger vibe of nostalgia, from the fashion to the music, that hooks the viewer in from the beginning to the end (more on the end in a bit), especially if you were part of that generation. But even if the viewers aren't part of that generation (and let's face it, I don't think VH1's demographics go beyond 30 years old at this point - but that's just my opinion), the characters are still relatable to this day; fearless with a take-no-prisoners attitude to get what they want, no matter the obstacles (and there's plenty). It's simply entertaining to watch these characters get brought down by society that doesn't want them to get ahead in life and their many ways to overcome those hurdles.
What a way to play your viewers, VH1.
Here's the thing (and I'm looking at you, VH1): right when you think they have what it takes and are close to getting their second foot in the door - that's where it ends. It simply cuts off. End scene. Roll credits. Not even a "To Be Continued" graphic. I thought my DVR was cut off (and I really wished that were the case). VH1 marketed this movie as just that: an original movie. The worst part? They ordered it as a backdoor pilot and that's it! What a way to play your viewers, VH1. Because of the abrupt ending (and obviously since it was no more than a pilot), it makes you crave more. And I want a whole lot more. More music, more fashion, more story, more everything. I would gladly watch this every week.
So far, there hasn't been any word about VH1 ordering a season of the "show." If that's the case, they better have plans to at least finish off the cast's storylines through a second movie, along with the original movie soundtrack. I'd love to see DeeVee struggle to create an album with some of those fresh (see what I did there?) beats he released towards the end of the movie and with an unpredictable, ruthless artist. It would also be great to watch how Nikkie continues to move up the career ladder in the music industry, especially as a Black woman living in a pre-dominantly male world in the nineties (sadly, some things never change). Only time will tell if VH1 will give this whole cast the break they deserve.
Until then, I'll leave you all with Mack Wilds' latest single, Love in the 90z.