Big Fun in the Big Town
February 26, 2005 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Big Fun in the Big Town Incredible German-produced documentary on hip hop and NY street culture from 1986. Features interviews and performances from Grandmaster Flash, Doug E Fresh, Run DMC, Roxanne Shante & Biz Markie, Schoolly D, and more.
posted by svidrigailov23 (18 comments total)
As mentioned in the comments: it's Dutch actually. Nevertheless, I remember seeing it when it was just released... It was great. I was nine or ten and I couldn't sleep, so my parents let me watch some TV (it was shown rather late). I was amazed at that completely different world and especially Doug E Fresh. Since then my older brother and me started buying hip hop records. Must have been a weird sight: two Dutch early-teens buying EPMD and BDP records while everyone else bought Michael Jackson. I gave up when gangsta became dominant. Recently I rediscovered it all, shame they don't make truly 'feel-good' rap like Young MC anymore. \rant
posted by swordfishtrombones at 11:36 AM on February 26, 2005

"shame they don't make truly 'feel-good' rap like Young MC anymore"

Horse shit.
posted by nthdegx at 11:37 AM on February 26, 2005

Horse shit.

Examples? I am serious, any suggestions for rap dealing with stuff other than bitches, ho's and bling are welcome. A Tribe called quest, Jurrasic 5, etc. Are there any truly great new CD's out ?

By the way: Lots more great documentaries in the same series here
posted by swordfishtrombones at 11:42 AM on February 26, 2005

I never cease to be amazed by people that, by their own admition, don't follow hip hop, but on the other hand are prepared to write it off as you just have.

Examples? I am serious, any suggestions for rap dealing with stuff other than bitches, ho's and bling are welcome.

Easy. Let's go back to "feel-good" as it's more specific. You've already mentioned Jurassic 5 (thereby contradicting yourself), but if you want more examples I'd offer Ugly Duckling (The Fresh Mode EP) and Blackalicious (check Blazing Arrow: nice and bouncy) as prime examples of hip hop with a sense of humour. Outkast certainly qualify as feel-good but perhaps their pseudo-gangstaism strikes you as offensive more than ironic.

De La Soul and Pharcyde are knocking about still. Their last album isn't "truly great" but they're touring at the moment. Well worth seeing, in my opinion. Numerous members of the Anticon hive are worth a bit of a chuckle: CloudDEAD would be my pick of the bunch.

J-Live's outstanding All of the Above has its fair share of humour, and the organic-leaning production values ooze a certain gooey warmth. Someone is probably going to mention the Def Juxx label. Aesop Rock has his moments but it might be that Mr Liff's out there style appeals to you (again, look at the EP before the LP). On a feel good vibe one can't forget about Del the Funkee Homosapien, particularly his recent outings with Dan the Automator. I could dig up some more, lots more, but these examples spring to mind immediately.

As for more general examples of rappers not talking about "bitches" etc, well, err, try 90% of hip hop out there. It's a pain, I know, but you might have to look outside of the pop charts. On a side note anything by Young MC after Stone Cold Rhymin was piss poor. A Tribe Called Quest, at their best (The Low End Theory) could be pretty fucking dark (which is how I like my hip hop).

There's two conversations per year at MetaFilter where someone writes of hip hop as all this, that or the other. It smacks of extreme ignorance as far as I'm concerned.
posted by nthdegx at 12:16 PM on February 26, 2005

Wow, I guess I should have chosen my words more careful. Thanks for the suggestions, I'll check them out. I have to admit that most of the current rap I hear is from some LA radio station, which is dominated by 50 cent, The Game, etc. When I rediscovered (through the joys of internet, since I left my records in Europe) classic stuff like Mantronix, Grandmaster Flash, I realized how classic that stuff is. Maybe it's also the fact that I don't remember all the crap that was made back then.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 12:50 PM on February 26, 2005

Sorry for being shirty -- it's just an attitude towards hip hop that seems to prevail but is totally unwarranted. It's a shame that it's the worst stuff that becomes successful but that's probably true of most genres.

If you're just going to check out one of those make it J-Live's All of the Above. It's superb.
posted by nthdegx at 12:58 PM on February 26, 2005

Those are good suggestions. I myself will a) watch this documentary and b) note that, just personally, I love the sound of early 80s rap and do find that nothing I hear (and I do follow hip hop somewhat) has quite the same energizing happy bounce to it. This isn't some kind of willful ignorance--it's the same way that my favorite rock records are all from the late 70s through the mid 80s. So, it is possible to like one era of hip hop over another without being ignorant of today's hip hop, it seems to me.

Anyway, I'd recommend "Melodica" over "Blazing Arrow," since "Melodica" is a little more straight-forward and '80s sounding (to my ears), and has a completely amazing instrumental second half which is totally, totally awesome.
posted by josh at 1:06 PM on February 26, 2005

Rap was pretty Fisher Price until Critical Beatdown which changed rap from kooky street rhyming to full on legitimate art.

Now Sean Combs is trying to take it all away, but don't let him.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2005

adding to the list:
Mos Def
Airborn Audio
The Roots
Will Smith
Glock 'n' Spiel (German)
on and on...
whatever you want now (for any kind of music), it's out there.

Can you give us some examples of typical words you use in the rapping?
Schooly D: Like, ill, dis, sucka ass nigga, i'll shoot ya dead, pistol, coke, lacys, crack...
posted by hellbient at 1:24 PM on February 26, 2005

touché, hellbient...
posted by swordfishtrombones at 1:38 PM on February 26, 2005

A great find very entertaining and interesting. The ending with Ice T felt out of place, especially if that one interview was meant to sum up the whole of LA rap.

As far as what makes good rap I don't see why a positive message has anything to do with it. Think about your favorite rock music, dose it have a positive message? There are artist with positive messages in both rap and rock, but usually these are not the most popular because music is not about pushing a message, it is about expressing yourself.

Also the argument that modern rap is missing that "energizing happy bounce" is completely ignoring every song produced by the Neptunes, and the entire sub genre of Crunk. Personally I am not a big fan of Crunk but it is probably the most energizing music since Punk. And while Crunk’s sound is a little darker, that doesn’t make it any less fun to dance to.
posted by CaptMcalister at 1:45 PM on February 26, 2005

no, not touche, swordfish. I'm not looking to rekindle any old East Coast/West Coast rivalries, just M2C.
We're All in the Same Gang...

and what CaptMc said...

That said, it's probably not a terrible thing to bring up this argument annually or so. Probably somewhat annoying for the vets, though...

do i dare bring up another fun hip hop argument - is there good hip hop in Europe yet? Maybe I'm generalizing, but it seems most Americans are snobs about their hip hop. Happy to be proved wrong there...
posted by hellbient at 2:12 PM on February 26, 2005

hellbient, I didn't try to start a fight, I just thought it was ironic that one of the old school rappers (albeit an infamous one) used the same words I mentioned in my original post.

With respect to European rap:

Dizzee Rascal has a very distinct style, often referred to as `grime'

Relax is a live hip hop band in the same vein as e.g. Spearhead. Fun.

In a lot of countries, e.g. France, the Netherlands and Germany, there's a strong culture of native language rap. It seems that the days of simply copying US rap (badly) is over.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 2:58 PM on February 26, 2005

i second the ugly duckling recommendation, the best hip hop produced anywhere, for my money! (production as well as rhyming-wise.) but i'd say check out "journey to anywhere" first.
anybody who can come up with "will get your noggin bobbin' like you're riding a toboggan" is okay in my book.
posted by Silky Slim at 4:38 PM on February 26, 2005

UK's Roots Manuva just dropped his third lp. He certainly fits the "feel good" thing. Also MC Pitman if you want all-out comedy. French hip hop is probably healthier than the UK's, though.
posted by nthdegx at 4:40 PM on February 26, 2005

I dunno if it's uncool or trendy or sellout to say so or whatever, but Kanye West is good.

Also I like the "crunk" and "screwed and chopped" styles.
posted by First Post at 8:42 PM on February 26, 2005

Great film!
posted by stbalbach at 9:10 PM on February 26, 2005

The FPP link appears to be dead. Anyone know of a mirror or have a copy saved?

Signed, Hip Hop Fanatic
posted by samh23 at 9:58 PM on March 1, 2005

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