RePPiN4U: THE EVOLUTION OF UK HIP HOP

RELEASE: JUNE 13, 2016

EDITED & PRODUCED BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

CO-PRODUCED BY PC THE PRODUCER & UK BIG PUN OF FATP PRODUCTIONS

MUSIC SCORE BY MR KEYES

CREATED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON

In this special documentary, RePPiN4U teams with distant cousins FATP (From Across The Pond) to take a special look at the evolution of UK HIP HOP. Starting in Wolverhampton, we take a look at the Beats A Bar music project open day, speak with the mayor, then travel up to Leicester where we talk to the guys behind Wild1 Radio’s #1 UK HIP HOP SHOW, then we return to Wolverhampton where we talk to Alex-Is on his album ‘UNEQUIVICAL’, and Reload, fresh from his trip from London where he opened up the show for Wu-Tang’s Raekwon The Chef. All this and more in an hour-long feature!

SPECIAL THANKS TO EVERYBODY INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT.

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IP MAN 3

Released: December 24, 2015 (Hong Kong) January 15, 2016 (UK) January 22, 2016 (US)

Director: Wilson Yip

Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Xiong, Jin Zhang, Danny Chan, Patrick Tan, Mike Tyson

Review by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

“Lord have mercy, Jesus Christ
He’s just nice, he just slice like a ginsu
Look at the life that I’ve been through
I’m the last real n!&&@ alive, that’s official…”(Nas, Last Real N!&&@ Alive, 2002)

Suddenly you are reading this review like ‘What’s this Nas track got to do with the film?’ Allow me to explain. If we claim that Hip Hop is life, you can apply Hip Hop to anything. Such as the case with the ipman3newposterlatest instalment of the Ip Man trilogy. Yes there has been spin-offs and other adaptations of the legendary master out there, confusing some fans with prequels and what not, and as good as they are, it’s Wilson Yip’s formula that we are interested in…Does the third film live up to the last two masterpieces? If this is Donnie Yen’s ‘last martial arts film’, does he go out with a last ‘no shadow kick’???

So here’s me, doing something I thought I would never do, go to cinema alone to watch a film… sad huh? Well it was either that or let every Tyrone, Dontae & Harold on my Facebook tell me how it went down on their status… since the film has done a rare thing of coming out in the UK before the states, this time I can tell you how it went down! Ip Man 3 has smashed the box office over in Hong Kong, taking Star Wars: The Force Awakens off the top spot. Naturally it won’t do the same over here or across the pond, neither do I expect it to. But one thing is for sure, as soon as that theme music hit, doctors would have to remove the smile off my face hearing it through the cinema speakers.

The film begins ten years after the second… where the previous film’s ending saw a presumably 6-8 year old Bruce Lee wanting to learn kung fu from Master Ip to which Ip replies, “Come back when you’re older”…and Bruce (Danny Chan) was a man of integrity, comes back and finds Ip Man. After Ip Man puts his hopeful disciple to the test he asks him: “Did you think you kicked the water I threw at you?” A question that Bruce found himself struggling to answer, which may or may not bring about the origin to Bruce’s famous philosphies about water in that well known interview.

So ten years after the second film (1959) a new corrupt property developer has emerged to take over the city only known by the name ‘Frank’ (Mike Tyson). Unlike previous ‘foreign devils’ as the Chinese used to refer us to back then, Frank settled in Hong Kong, got married to a Chinese woman and learned their language as well as English. He owns a fight club, but it’s not enough… he targets the school where Ip Man’s kids are attending…that’s something you just don’t do -mess with the education of the future generation! So when Frank sends his brutal gangsters to seize control, Ip Man steps in and holds off the onslaught. In the midst of all this, Ip Ching (Ip Man’s son) becomes best friends with a fellow student, and his father Cheung Tin-Chi (Jin Zhang) happens to be a Wing Chun practioneer too. Even worse, Ip Man’s wife (Lynn Xiong) is diagnosed with Cancer, now Ip Man finds himself saving his son and the children from possible slavery and trying to help his wife deal with the incurable situation.

Now back to the question you asked me: What’s Nas’ Last Real N!&&@ Alive’ track got to do with this film?

“In the Firm I learned I Am NaStradamus
QB’s Finest, Oochie Wally, faced more problems
I gave it all up so I can chill at home with mama
She was getting old and sick so I stayed beside her
We had the best times, she asked would I make more songs
I told her not til I see her health get more strong
In the middle of that, Jay tried to sneak attack
Assassinate my character, degrade my hood
Cause in order for him to be the Don, Nas had to go…”

Rhyme & Reason: The people look up to Ip Man as the renowned hero and Wing Chun master, and his battles against the gangsters got him recognition and hitting news headlines. Cheung Tin-Chi, who had assisted Master Ip in these battles sees this and his admiration for Ip Man turns into a friendly rivalry turned jealousy. Tin-Chi challenges Ip Man to a public contest. But Ip uncharacteristically doesn’t show because Cheung Wing-Sing’s condition gets worse, and in the middle of all that, Tin-Chi spreads trick-knowledge saying Ip Man’s Wing Chun is not authentic and his is the purest form. So while Tin-Chi is not a villain, he’s not a pure hearted hero either. While he fights for what it’s right he will take money to do unjust things, such as wound the school principal enough to hospitalise him, set up a fake request for Ip Man to visit him in hospital as a distraction so that the thugs can go in and burn down the school. Tin-Chi wanted to prove that he was the ‘Don’ of Wing Chun, and so Wing-Sing sets up the fight between him and her loving husband to finally settle things. This would become her last act before she passed away in 1960.

Ip Man 3 FB Cover2

“I was Scarface, Jay was Manolo
It hurt me when I had to kill him and his whole squad for dolo.”

Rhyme & Reason: In this case, Ip Man was Scarface and Tin-Chi was Manolo… only that Ip doesn’t kill Tin-Chi, or rather, he killed his fighting spirit in the battle. This serves as the final fight in the movie as they battle with poles and cleavers before testing each other’s Wing Chun. Great decision by director Wilson Yip as the second film was hit by fans questioning the science of Chinese boxing Vs Western boxing, which has been toned down a lot in this instalment of the biography. The trailer portrayed Donnie Yen’s character facing off against Tyson as the last fight when in reality it’s somewhere in the middle of the film. Tyson’s role was a minimal one. Aside from the Chinese language he spoke, Tyson does what he does best with his hands, but he doesn’t make a convincing villain in the film. It’s more of a spectacle than anything else, as Tyson’s character threatens to rid Hong Kong of Ip but challenges him to outlast him in 3 minutes. As Frank’s punches overwhelm our Wing Chun hero, he switches to Mantis Kung Fu to out manoeuvre Frank. Frank lets Ip go after 3 minutes and that’s the last we see of him. With that the film switches more to its authenticity and realism that made the first film such a success. But choreographer Yuen Woo Ping does not disappoint with the fight scenes, such as Ip and Tin-Chi fighting against the gangsters, Donnie’s signature lightning fast body blows, and the elevator fight scene where Frank hires an assassin to eliminate Ip in front of his wife.

Ip Man 3 FB cover

Ip Man 3 is a great solid film to perhaps finish the biography trilogy with no hints of any more sequels, however fans might be disappointed into believing this was a film where we would see the relationship of Ip Man & Bruce Lee in terms of the martial arts standpoint, and all we see is the start of it, which might want fans wanting to see that in the future, but whether it’s Donnie’s portrayal of it is unlikely if what he says is true about Ip Man 3 being his last pure martial arts film. Danny Chan’s character only appears one other time in the film, and watching it in 2D just shows where the 3D elements would come in had I watched it in that format.

Towards the film’s end, the audience will become sympathetic to how Ip Man handles the loss of his wife, and the film ends with the famous interpolation of Ip Man sitting amongst Bruce and his fellow disciples. Before Bruce Lee became THAT MAN… Ip Man was the Last Real Dude Alive, and that’s OFFICIAL.

Risen: The Story of Chron “Hell Razah” Smith (PREVIEW)

WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. Of RePPiN4U, Member of GGO (Ghetto Government Officials) and Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

Article updated March 21, 2017

FEATURE FILM RELEASE: TBA 2017

Dir. Frank Meyer

Risen hel razah2Music biopic/documentaries go as far back as The Jackson 5, Little Richard, then moving forward to some of the more recent ones like Aaliyah, Nas (Time is Illmatic) and TLC. But never has there been such a Hip Hop biopic that has garnered such success as Straight Outta Compton which topped the US box office which was unheard of for a Hip Hop Biopic feature film and received critically acclaimed reviews across the board including RePPiN4U (Read review here). Now other artists want to jump on the bandwagon and popular demand hoping for the same success. Death Row Records, reportedly not happy about the portrayal of their label in the film are reportedly planning to film their production. Gucci Mane claims he wants to create a biopic, 2Pac’s biopic ‘All Eyes On Me’ gets released this year which is sure to be well anticipated, but some Wu-fans have been clamoring a Wu-Tang Clan version…Dr.Dre & Co continue to be the trend setters of Hip Hop, but Wu -fans will be getting their wish very soon.

Chron Smith, more commonly known as Wu-Affiliate Hell Razah of the Sunz of Man didn’t exactly hear the cry from the fans but it just so happens that he is about to unleash his story entitled ‘Risen’… about his sword swinging comeback from a Brain Aneurysm. If it was to rupture, it could cause a stroke, or worse – brain damage or death.

Director Frank Meyer and Razah go back as far as 1997. Razah was apart of the web series Freestyle 101, which has featured such artists like The Game, Cypress Hill & Ice-T. With their long-standing friendship, it was only right that Meyer was the perfect choice for this feature film.

“Razah’s story is one everyone can relate to,” says Meyer. “He was a talented kid from the streets who worked hard and Frank Meyer hell razahnearly achieved all of his dreams before this tragedy struck. Now his life has been completely refocused. A lot of rappers will tell you about how they have been shot 9 times, but they won’t let you see them struggling through the rehab process or questioning their future.”

Meyer might be firing shots of his own in that statement, but he’s about to take Razah’s fans through the five-year journey of true rehabilitation. ‘Risen’ features Razah’s fellow Sunz of Man brethren, as well as Wu-Tang members RZA & Cappadonna, Popa Wu, Ras Kass and many more.

We spoke with Hell Razah in late 2016 about the film, and what he and the Sunz of Man has for us as they approach their 20th Anniversary of their debut album, ‘ The Last Shall Be First.

The official trailer has just been released and by the looks of it, this is a remarkable story. Check it out after the jump and Look out for the exclusive RePPiN4U Review when ‘Risen’ drops later this year.

Risen hel razahFOLLOW @HEAVENRAZAH ON TWITTER

FOLLOW @FRANKMMEYER ON TWITTER

CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL HELL RAZAH WEBSITE HERE

‘LIKE’ RISEN: THE STORY OF CHRON ‘HELL RAZAH’ SMITH ON FACEBOOK

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

US RELEASE: August 14, 2015

UK RELEASE: August 28, 2015

Dir. F.Gary Gray

Running Time: 2h 30mins

I’m about to say a shocking revelation, and it goes like this: I care NOT for Batman Vs Superman. The film means nothing to me. When it drops next year, I sincerely hope y’all enjoy the blockbuster, I’m sure it will be off the hook. Don’t mind me, I’ll be sitting here continuing to bring you great reviews and hot radio shows. It’s what I do.

Straight_Outta_Compton_posterYou already know I don’t go to cinema for any old film. Nearly £10 to watch a movie… GOOD LORD… have I been away THAT LONG? My cousin who was with me when we went to the cinema with our brothers, asked how much a bottle of cola was. The woman turned round to him and said – £2:50….My cuz was like – “…..FORGET IT!!!” Yes people that’s two supermalts and a Cadbury’s Crunchie. A kebab and chips. 2 piece of Southern Fried Chicken & Chips… WITH A DRINK!

Don’t get it twisted – I am appalled by the prices but this was a special moment. Five grown brothers between the ages of 35 – 43 excited like little kids anticipating the viewing of Straight Outta Compton, the REAL superhero movie of citizens from the hood versus the corrupt cops and the federal government, something which is still relevant and more re-occuring as of late.

A biopic about the rise and fall of Hip Hop’s most dangerous group, the successes, tragedies, the management, police brutality, and brotherhood. Directed by the same man responsible for the first Friday film 20 years ago, has F.Gary Gray created another classic that 20 years later, my brothers will still be talking about while we slamming dominoes at family get togethers?

Die-hard fans know the story pretty much inside out, but for the more casual hip hop fan or those who want to know more of the history, I’ll explain the movie’s plot.

Considering that there were 5 members in the Compton Collective, the movie’s focal point revolve around Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Dr.Dre (Corey Hawkins) & Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr). One being business minded, another having such a passion for music, the other with a vast knowledge and writing skills. They have one thing in common: continuous police harassment. Guys are merely on their travels or just simply standing there and the police can’t help but abuse their authority.

Through trial and error searching for MCs to make it big, the group take it among themselves to get in the booth to create records. Early success from Eazy calls forth the attention of a one Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), who promises to take Eazy and the crew to worldwide fame, and he delivered…but it didn’t come without its controversies.

Most NWA fans know the story, but knowing what happened with Heller, the audience can not help but love Giamatti’s on-screen character in the early going. Standing up to the police while they have the ‘gang members’ on the floor was a delightful sight. This was the trigger that led to the group’s most dangerous record.

As the saying goes: ‘If you tell someone NOT to do something, they will do it’. The single ‘F**k Tha Police’ hit secret power points within America’s law enforcement and  warned the group not to perform it on stage. This is a great scene as the group blatantly defied and refused to conform and performed the track anyway, and one officer looked like he was tempted to bop his head but knew he had to carry out his duty. Riots erupted and the police soon out runs NWA. Arrested and thrown in a van, all five guys were actually laughing about it.

Ice Cube quickly discovers Heller’s questionable strategies and realises everyone is getting the short end of the deal apart from Eazy. Cube leaves the group, joins Priority Records and records the infamous diss track ‘No Vaseline’ aimed at his former group and boss. While the group found the diss track amusing, it is Heller who is so riled up he looked like he wanted to go in the booth himself and record a response.

The group’s success reaches the eyes and ears of Suge Knight (R.Marcus Taylor). Knight approaches Dre and lures him to Death Row Records. The move costs Eazy a vicious beat down, and Knight’s violent demeanor was one Dre never anticipated nor did he sign up for.

When Eazy’s eyes were finally open, he wanted to reform the group but this time without Heller. It seems like bridges were about to be rebuilt and Heller looking like he’s gonna have a breakdown, but then Eazy is diagnosed with HIV and passes away. This brings the group back together and brings Dre to a revelation.

Straight Outta ComptonThe movie’s most memorable scenes include the groupie party which had the movie theatre in laughter. The way Eazy frightened the party poopers off with Uzi’s was hilarious and the ‘ho’ in connection was thrown out the hotel by Cube was disrespectful, but hilarious at the same time.

Corey Hawkins’ movie role was portrayed as a noble one. All Dre was interested in was making that music, but he finds himself ridden with guilt and regret by not taking his brother on tour with him, had he took him, he believed that his brother would not have met his unfortunate end. Dre’s ‘fearless’ attitude against Knight has the audience rooting for his success, yet at the same time slightly unrealistic given Knight’s reputation.

But it’s O’Shea Jackson Jr, whose portrayal of his father had him emerge as the film’s true star because everything he did in the movie seemed natural to him to a point where your mind doubts you for a split second that you’re watching Ice Cube himself on-screen. His superior intellect against the press and the journalist is comedy gold and right and exact at the same time.

SAM_4404

BROTHERHOOD. Pictured from left to right: Clint Bennett (Cousin), Richard Selby, Chris Spence and Michael Grant (author and C.E.O. of RePPiN4U)

What this movie has done is cover ground for those who don’t know about one of Hip Hop’s great pioneers, and may surprise die-hard fans in places. While some may criticize the movie missing out scenes that may consider vital to the story, they need to realise two things: One, it’s a two and a half hour movie, which definitely didn’t feel that long because of the film’s pacing and keeping the viewer engaged throughout, and two, when the DVD/Blu-ray comes out in a few months, how do they know they won’t include deleted scenes and outtakes that might be interesting. Imagine if they did add such scenes. Not many films can hold the audience interest for over 2 hours as it is.

What I loved about this movie was the display of brotherhood, and watching the guys perform some of my favourite tracks that made me feel like a proud family member, as if I grew up with them. There are some great touches in the film such as Ice Cube writing the plot for what would be the classic ‘Friday’, you see him cracking up as he writes which showed a great sign, and the real footage used in connection with the Rodney King case. NWA was tired of hearing songs saying ‘Darling I Love You’ Which was why they came with something real. Best of all, Dre’s ‘Compton Soundtrack’ makes so much more sense now. The album is an inspiration to the movie, it’s not Detox, nor is it the Chronic/2001 and nor is it trying to match that. It’s a reflection of the film, and the way Gray had this film end was a way that there could be a follow-up, at the same time not necessary to do so, and then it finally hits you. Dr. Dre was just Talking To His Diary.

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2

Ever wondered what happened after the Blacksmith left Jungle Village? Did anyone particularly care? Fans were already hoping for A Better Tomorrow, only to be somewhat disappointed by the album’s direction… but that’s another review on this site.

Man With the Iron Fists2All along, during the album’s development, little did fans know that a sequel was in the works for The Man with the Iron Fists. Those who enjoyed the first movie were surprised and excited, while those who didn’t simply sneered at the idea. Even with Tarantino’s guidance, the first film didn’t bring the box office success that RZA had hoped for. With the sequel going directly to DVD, and without a star-studded cast this time round, did RZA learn from his directorial mistakes from the first film?

The adventure starts off basically where the first film left off. RZA reprises his role as the Blacksmith ‘Thaddeus’, who left Jungle Village and went on a journey to find peace. But his old enemies led by Silver Lion caught up with him and tried to finish him off. Silver Lion thought he had killed Thaddeus, only that Thaddeus crushed his skull in the process first. Thaddeus, left for dead, found himself laying on a raft, eventually been rescued by strangers and brought him to another land. This land had a ruthless ruler in Master Ho (Carl Ng) who had slaves work for him in the caves to discover silver… at least that’s what he made them believe. Failure to comply would instantly meet death and held with a stake through their body on display for everyone to see as an example.

The strangers who rescued Thaddeus were wife and daughter to Li Kung (Dustin Nguyen) who became leader of the slave rebellion. He and his brother had learned Mantis Kung Fu to go against Master Ho’s Beetle clan. Younger brother Li Guang (Charlie Ruedpokanaon) defeated one of the Beetle clan’s esteemed fighters, but Master Ho had Li Guang killed in the caves for showing up the Beetle Clan.

Li Kung decides to take revenge by challenging Master Ho himself… Li Kung was on the brink of defeat when a rejuvenated Thaddeus comes to the rescue in gratitude to Li Kung and his family saving him from certain death.

Iron Fists It's YourzMeanwhile women in the village were being mysteriously killed, their bodies shrivelled up to a prune like state by what was believed to be the spirit of Lord Pi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa of Mortal Kombat Fame). Lord Pi was a wicked man and was captured in battle. As a result he had his legs chopped off by order of the Abbott. He had been since confined to a wheelchair and was known as Mayor Zhang.

Realising who Thaddeus was, Li Kung asks him to make weapons to aid fight against the Beetle Clan. Thaddeus initially refuses, but remembers Buddha’s teachings. What’s more, the slave miners were not actually digging for silver, it was in fact a water source that can bring forth immortality. So if Master Ho got his hands on that, it would be curtains for everybody. The water source originated from the shaolin temple so Li Kung alerts the Abbott that their water source was in danger.

iron fists triumphMayor Zhang wished to join the fight against the Beetle Clan as their actions were reprehensible, so Thaddeus decides to make iron legs for him and by using chi, is able to walk again, but the blacksmith was unaware of his real intentions – get his hands on the water source and become the evil Lord Pi once again. Betrayal, Li Kung and Thaddeus combine their force to defeat Lord Pi for good.

In this film we see that RZA has toned down the Tarantino trademark effects and tried to focus more on the fight sequences to let the viewer actually see what is happening with the fight choreography like the old school kung fu flicks. The violence is still all there though, so the exaggerated blood effects remain (pints of blood leaving bodies who had their limbs chopped off). Also gone were the Tarantino inspired names of characters like Jack Knife, Gold Lion, Brass Body etc and replaced with more authentic, believable names. The music score became more cinematic than a hip hop vibe found in the first film, but some of those beats in this film sounded like they could have made A Better Tomorrow. Again, that’s another review altogether. Shout outs to Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge as their instrumental track ‘Enemies All Around Me’ from the album ’12 Reasons To Die’ made the film, shout out to Talib Kweli & Busta Rhymes, whose RZA produced track – Rocket Ships from the Prisoner of Conscious album made the film, and special shout out to Zack Hemsey for his track ‘Teachings of a Ronin’ which set the epic tone for the final showdown against the Beetle Clan.

The film had a ‘Mortal Kombat’ like atmosphere, so if RZA was to remake the Mortal Kombat film franchise based on the characters in the latest game on the next-gen consoles, RZA would make a tremendous job. The other thing worth noting, is that if RZA likes to play characters who engage in combat, he could at least learn more basic kung fu. He admits to not knowing much martial arts, but if you are gonna be the star/villain, eventually you will be exposed. Back in 96-97 fans loved the ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Night the Earth Cried’ videos, but playing roles like this and the villain in Tony Jaa’s The Protector 2/Warrior King 2, fans will notice RZA’s particular lack of skills. As far as the main villains, It’s understandable how Lord Pi met his demise, but particularly Master Ho, who claims he’d been hanged once, bullwhipped twice, shot at 8 times (50 Cent’s record still unbeaten), dragged behind horses 15 times, and had his left testicle chewed off, these guys should have met a demise the likes of which even Ed Boon couldn’t think of as a fatality. Very disappointing.

Again, it’s not ‘The Raid’, it’s not ‘Ip Man’, so throw those expectations out of the window. But also remember, this isn’t ‘American Ninja’ either, and it sure as hell isn’t ‘Kung Fu’ starring the late David Carradine. God Bless RZA, the film is watchable because it’s him. His narration is borderline cheesy, but he’s forgiven, fans love to hear RZA’s voice anyway. Furthermore his narration carries through into Ghostface’s 12 Reasons albums (Look out for the review of Part 2 soon.) The ending of this film may indicate that there could be a third instalment on the way… Let that sink in, think of it what you will but films like to come in three’s like waiting for the bus.

THE VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE: J-DILLA, A EUROPEAN REMEMBRANCE

Director: Shernay LaTouche, Released February 2013

“You’re nobody, til’ somebody, kills you…” (Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death, 1997)

“I don’t want y’all to celebrate my life when I’m gone. I want y’all to celebrate my life while I’m here!” (Busta Rhymes, You Ain’t Gotta Wait Til I’m Gone, 2011)

J Dilla rememberanceUnfortunately it is an unwritten rule in human behaviour, as soon as somebody has passed away, we seem to appreciate them even more. While we are here, we take it for granted, and even very recently, hip hop lost another figure in the name of Tim Dog. If you were reading this review at time it was released, you will have checked your Facebook home page… half of your friends list are posting Tim Dog videos that they wouldn’t have a day earlier. Check your twitter, RIPTimDog trending worldwide. You are probably guilty of it yourself. We have all done it, and in the words of Puff Daddy, “..and we won’t stop now…”

Staying on the subject, since that heartbreaking moment in hip hop on February 10, 2006, February has become a season of celebration, almost up there with Black History Month and Valentines Day. Hip Hop Heads around the world appreciate the great producer James Dewitt Yancey (a.k.a. J Dilla) and ‘Turn It Up’, as it were, year after year tribute jams are held, and the consumption of Donuts are increased, and I’m not talking about Dilla’s album. This is what this documentary is about. Not necessarily talking about Dilla’s life and how he got into the music and how he changed people’s lives, but rather how he has affected fans, artists, and DJs after he returned to the essence.

The View From The Other Side is a 47-minute journey through UK and parts of Europe in the eyes of director Shernay LaTouche that was three years in the making as she allows artists and DJs such as Mr. Thing, Saneyes, and Willey Sunshine tell their stories, favourite Dilla moments and the legacy that was left behind. She has done a great job of capturing the atmosphere of the different cities and how people celebrate Dilla’s life, unfortunately she didn’t give a narrative story to complement the scenes and tell the story to the audience., and so it makes for a show that may have viewers lost in the questions that were asked in the interviews she conducted , even though based on the answers and stories given by the artists it is not hard to figure out what was asked. The interview scenes were edited and chopped up over the program, but it needed something to separate the chapters, even if LaTouche decided not to go with the narration, she could have done so by using visual text.

LaTouche does include nice touches such as including subtitles to the artists she interviewed that don’t speak English, and a scene going into a factory where unofficial J Dilla T-shirt designs were created. The artists were generally on the same page by saying there will NEVER be another J Dilla, one of them did name Black Milk, a super producer from Detroit who has grown up on Dilla’s influence and has been compared to him. Black Milk has made it very clear that he can never be like him and doesn’t want to be compared to as such, and rightfully so. The media are so quick to compare a new artist to a legend and make the unknowing follow that mindlessly, for example, they would say that Justin Timberlake is the next Michael Jackson, and people would believe it. While it may seem flattering to Justin, he just wants to prove himself as an artist and be his own person. What was also said did raise my eyebrow out of interest when the people spoke of the Dilla beats that Raekwon and Ghostface Killah chose for their albums (Fishscale and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Part II respectively), and had Dilla be alive how would it have changed or remastered. It is a frightening thought to be fair, knowing that those tracks were among the best tracks on those albums.

The feature ends with a heartfelt, perhaps unreleased Dilla beat, it had me boppin my head smoothly, showing another example that no matter how much of a J Dilla fan you are, you could be a purist and know every Dilla track inside out, there are always hidden gems that have not been discovered yet. Busta Rhymes for example is reportedly sitting on a goldmine of Dilla beats, yet due to musical politics and his current position now, he cannot use those beats for his projects. Stupid I know. I had always thought that you could use any producer for your album as long as you were the executive producer, no matter your record label. I suppose that’s the only thing I learnt, because this documentary will not give any J Dilla fans anything to learn from really. It might cover ground for those who don’t know who J Dilla is and want to understand why heads pay so much respect to one who never wanted to be in the public eye unlike say Dr. Dre, Swizz Beatz, Timberland, those sort of guys, but for everyone else, it is just an insight to how other European countries celebrate Dilla. This is probably what LaTouche had in mind, But don’t expect a history lesson here. It would also have been nice if LaTouche actually managed to interview some established artists over this side of the pond as well, but it is a good effort from a young director/producer who has travelled Europe over the last few years to make this happen and for that you got to respect that at least.

“Watching him press those pads, and I was just like – yo, you’re not one of us. You’re sitting there in your disguise and your glasses, knowing that you’re way better than all of us, you are…you’re Clark Kent…” (?uestLove of The Roots, talking about J Dilla)

Film: THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012) Dir. The RZA

RZA IRON FISTTrue story: It has been 5 years…. since I was overly excited for a film, so much that I would call up my crew and say ‘let’s go to cinema and watch this on day of release’.  Spiderman 3 would be the last film since I made a claim like that. Sure, there have been many blockbuster movies since then, and yet, I lacked interest and excitement, even when they came to DVD. I thought it was my age, that I had actually grown out of this sort of thing, or that everyone at my age started going to the cinemas with their partners instead with the crew….until now.

From 1993, two things became clear from the get-go; one, that Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA had a love and passion for kung fu movies, and two, he had produced most clan and solo albums like a movie… it was only a matter of time that he would try a hand in directing. We first saw this in music videos in the mid 90s (RZA’s own ‘Tragedy’ and Gravediggaz ‘The Night The Earth Cried’). Known to most Wu-Tang fans, RZA actually made a short film out of his own budget based on his Bobby Digital alter ego but it never really took off and very few have seen it. Since then he has made many cameo acting roles in movies such as Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai, Derailed, and American Gangster, and scored the music for films such as Kill Bill and Blade Trinity. Now with the knowledge instilled in him along with additional guidance by movie icon Quentin Tarantino, RZA is ready to make his true directional début.

The Man With The Iron Fists is the first film review by RePPiN4U, the first of many film reviews that are hip hop related. Unlike so-called movie know-it-alls and faceless internet keyboard warriors who were quick to blast the movie months before it came out, RePPiN4U actually went out and checked the movie for ourselves so we can give you an unbiased review. So, has the RZA successfully made a masterpiece that he says is compared to his full production of Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers album?

Before I go on I want to speak on the lack of advertising and the treatment it received from the venue I visited to see this film… Usually films are advertised on billboards, buses and newspapers… I saw nothing of the sort. Disrespectful to the clan’s Abbott. Then when we checked for the box office at the venue in question, there was nobody there to check for tickets, and you had to buy our ticket through machines (remember I haven’t been cinema in five years, and my Peoples that were with me haven’t been to cinema even longer so it was completely new to us.) The machines told us it was ‘sold out’…. which made no sense because it wasn’t like it was a blockbuster film like say The Dark Knight Rises. Apparently the reason being was because the movie projector was ‘conveniently broken…’ After total confusion and outraged RZA fans and movie fans alike, the staff realised that this film was bigger than initially presumed…suddenly the movie projector was ‘fixed’ and it was on with the show.

The movie opens with various fast paced fight scenes complimented with the classic Wu joint – ‘Shame On a N!**@’. Then The RZA, who plays as the ‘Blacksmith’, narrates and tells the story how he became a freed slave and made a living making weapons for various clans in nineteenth century China, and uses the payments to free Lady Silk (played by Jamie Chung) from prostitution led by Madame Blossom (Lucy Liu – of Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill fame.)

Meanwhile Zen-Yi (Rick Yune) seeks revenge after his father Gold Lion is betrayed and killed by Silver Lion (Bryon Mann) & Bronze Lion (Cung Le), only to find that Silver & Bronze have a secret weapon in the form of the main villain Brass Body (Dave Bautista – Of WWE and MMA) whose skin turns to metal on impact and seems invincible. Brass defeats Zen-Yi within an inch of his life and an observing Blacksmith rescues him after Zen-Yi’s men sacrifices himself by attempting to bury Brass Body under heavy stone.

Silver & Bronze suspect that Blacksmith and Zen-Yi are working together so they capture Blacksmith and put him under torture to get him to reveal the whereabouts of Zen-Yi, when Blacksmith refuses to talk, they make sure that Blacksmith never makes weapons again by getting Brass Body to chop off Blacksmith’s arms à la Wu-Tang Forever’s Severe Punishment.

Meanwhile the Emperor’s undercover emissary Jack Knife (Russell Crowe – of Gladiator fame) had followed Blacksmith and manages to save him from certain death, Blacksmith tells Jack of his past and how it got into Shaolin (We see a cameo appearance from Pam Grier here) and then Jack helps him build the Iron Fists which can help channel the chi that Blacksmith acquired in his days of Shaolin. Blacksmith goes on to use these fists and teams with Jack Knife and Zen-Yi to take on Silver, Bronze and Brass Body.

As you watch this film it is clear to see that RZA has learnt a lot from his ‘teacher’ Tarantino’. From the names of the characters, to using cinematic effects that is seen in Tarantino movies, to using a diverse cast and ‘borrowing’ ideas from other film influences – there is a fight scene between Zen-Yi and Silver Lion among a room full of mirrors like the classic Bruce Lee film Enter The Dragon, for example, and the Brass Body character was derived from the villain in the ol’ school kung fu flick  Born Invincible. Like all other kung fu villains, he does have a weakness, it’s just a matter of finding it.  The fight cheoreography is more modern than ol’ school kung fu… bear in mind that RZA is an ol’ school kung fu fanatic I would have hoped for scenes to be more like that however what RZA has done here is blend the two – keep it modern with ol’ school traits – like when Gold Lion gets killed with exaggerated blood coming out of both sides of his head, and him not realising that he is dead until 10 seconds afterwards when he suddenly drops his head on the ground. Yes the blood is over the top but that was the idea… it’s all entertainment. It is also a nice touch that RZA used the Clan’s 8 Diagrams track ‘Unpredictable’ to go with one of the fight scenes. It is something that Wu-Tang purists will appreciate, but film buffs will dismiss.

If you went into this film thinking it’s gonna be another classic like Ong Bak or Ip Man, you fail to realise that this is an American production as opposed to a CineAsia production. But as American fighting films go, this one is not bad at all, however the rookie director has made a few mistakes, while he gives us background on the Blacksmith character, the audience have no idea how Brass Body got those super powers in the first place. Maybe it became an outtake that may be featured in the blu-ray and DVD extras, and maybe RZA thought that it may slow down the pace of the film. I still feel as though we deserved an explanation. The other eyebrow raising factor is the Iron Fists themselves… Blacksmith had both his arms chopped off, so when he fuses himself with these weapons, how is he able to control the fingers as a means of eating and be able to clench his fists??? Is it a mind over matter thing?

Despite these few mis-steps, it is a valiant effort by the rookie director. It’s not an outstanding film, it could have been a lot worse (Tekken, Dragonball Z, Street Fighter:RZA Iron Fist Soundtrack The Legend Of Chun-Li etc), but it ticks the right boxes as far as being an entertaining movie. Furthermore, if RZA can bring together such a cast that has individual success in awards and other sports achievements, The RZA is going in the right direction and we are going to see a lot more of RZA as a director in the future. I will most definitely buy the DVD to check out the deleted scenes and making of the film, as I am convinced that some of those scenes could have been left in to fill the missing pieces of the puzzle. With this, the rest of the clan’s multi-talented skills plus their seeds now rhyming and making a name for themselves, it is justifiable that Wu-Tang is indeed Forever.