Director: Nick Donnelly
SHOWN AT POP BRIXTON, LONDON December 11, 2017,
ALSO SHOWN AT GORILLA, MANCHESTER, December 19, 2017
REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U & International Rep for Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition
“People Say, Love is just an energy, dealing with the claim…”
The very first thing I must do is give thanks and praises to a former university colleague of mine – Karl Hughes. That man didn’t have to look out for his fellow peers, but he chooses to out of the goodness of his heart. If it wasn’t for him, would the RePPiN4U HIP HOP SHOW have manifested? Or more importantly, would I have been involved in something monumental and historic such as this?
Ever since the success of Straight Outta Compton, Wu-Tang fans in particular have been clamoring for a similar cinematic treatment for their favourite team. So far we have the upcoming biopic about Ol’ Dirty Bastard entitled ‘RAW’, Hell Razah has been promoting his real life documentary (Risen: The Story of Chron Smith) for the longest, and just patiently waiting for the perfect time to strike which could be sooner than you think. But just like the clan emerging from the shadows in 1993, Director Nick Donnelly wasn’t trying to wait like everybody else.
Filmed in 2013, this was celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Hip Hop’s most influential dynasty. The unique selling point of this movie was the fact that it was a UK spin on how the 10 men with Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game impacted the fan-base and artists out here in the UK and Europe (this whole Brexit thing is really confusing). Donnelly closely follows the clan during their anniversary tour and crams it all in a 95 minute feature. I had the honor and privilege to be invited to see the premiere before an intimate crowd down at Pop Brixton as a part of the Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition. It was an opportunity that was an eyelash of going wrong because of the heavy snowfall, but in London, not a snowflake was seen.
Highlights in the film include footage of RZA during a sound check process before a show which was highly intriguing, following a young female DJ who now travels with Raekwon for shows, UK artist Yung Meth, who has been endorsed by Method Man himself, what is interesting here is that Yung Meth feels that although he is gaining credible success, he feels that America would gravitate towards him more. He also makes a point of not sounding American, something rookie UK artists fall in the trap of doing hoping to make their music relevant. Donnelly also speaks to the Clan’s tour manager Simon Green and how he got involved and possibly landing a dream job, talking to Leaf Dog of The Four Owls, who actually produced on U-God’s Keynote Speaker album – a funny moment in the film occurs when Leaf Dog makes a parody of the commercial side of what mainstream media calls ‘Hip Hop’ and has the audience in Pop Brixton (and possibly Gorilla too) chuckling along, he also speaks with producer Statik Selektah, and hanging out with Ghostface Killah shopping, further showing Iron Man’s down to earth nature and further proving that just like he said in the Pretty Toney album, ‘God is his bodyguard’…
“Let me tell you what they gon’ try to do
And y’all remember the sh!t, y’all gon’ tell the f***!ng world
Teach all the babies and sh!t
They gon’ try to make black and white go against each other
Which they can’t because we already having a good time!” (Ol Dirty Bastard, If What You Say Is True, 2017)
With this feature, Donnelly went IN with his research with not just the clan but with everyone featured in the documentary. After 95 minutes elapsed, both sold out venues gave a standing ovation, which was something Donnelly was not expecting. Some die-hard fans thought while they enjoyed the film, they learned nothing from it, on the opposite side of the spectrum the film made some members of the audience NEW Wu-Tang fans in the process which has to be most surprising.
If there was a negative to be pointed out, was that maybe the pace of the film slows down in places where Wu-instrumentals could have been used as a music bed as a means of fair use. But that is a minor. As stated earlier, people came into the venue not knowing a thing about the Wu-Tang and left the building as Wu-Tang fiends, and that’s what the School of Shaolin truly achieved, expanding, getting more pupils so that the knowledge can spread.
Take a bow Nick Donnelly, you have helped put the UK Hip Hop scene on the map even more with this, and now you got other cities worldwide interested. Now that’s a snowball I can get behind.
November 2018 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan. Stay tuned for more announcements of when you can see this film at a theater near you for 2018!