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Britain gets ready for rapsploitation.

Britain gets ready for rapsploitation. (photo)

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Unlike the US — where the ghetto issue movie has for years been its own subgenre — the UK only recently got with the program. Friday sees the release of the UK’s first hip-hop musical, “1 Day,” which shows how quickly their film industry is adapting to the inner-city turf it previously ignored. In 2004, there was the pioneering “Bullet Boy,” followed soon by “Kidulthood” and its follow-up “Adulthood.” Watching the trailers in chronological order, the amount of moralizing and ominous music goes way down: the number of gunshots, hoodies being pulled over ominously and aggressive rap numbers goes way up.

1991’s “Boyz N The Hood” was the protoypical American “increase the peace” film, when hip-hop soundtracks were the backdrop to stories detailing the need for an end to inner-city violence. This went on for a while (“Menace II Society,” “New Jack City” et al.), until the soundtrack became the subject. As Nathan Rabin notes, “Master P’s incomprehensible 1997 film I’m ‘Bout It unofficially launched the genre of rapsploitation, serving as the first of many low-budget exploitation films written, directed, acted, and/or produced by rappers.”

As the “hood life” genre faded into theatrical obscurity — the euphemistic “urban audience” preferring goofy stoner comedies and stuff with Ice Cube and/or Tyler Perry — it found new, mutated life in movies where rappers dramatizing their hard-ass recording personas in unambiguously reprehensible (yet inexplicably self-regarding) form. The pattern is simple and unchanging: man who aspires to higher things sells drugs, puts rap career on hold, everything ends with an over-the-top shoot-out. Collating these movies would take at least a thesis: the most notable examples include Roc-A-Fella’s “State Property” and Cam’ron’s atrocious “Killa Season,” a movie I’ve seen four times and whose ineptitude never ceases to amaze me.

Britain’s hip-hop scene is arguably coming of commercial rap age: see, for example, Dizzee Rascal, who went from being critically acclaimed to knocking Jay-Z off the top of the charts for one week with his latest album. “1 Day” ‘s intentions are noble; it’s directed by 59-year-old Penny Woolcock, who likes to say things like “Hip-hop and grime are an authentic expression of street life. It’s the way people tell their stories – like the spirituals and the blues for earlier generations.”

But it’s already being blasted by politicians for glamorizing violence: true for any film with no explicit “increase the peace” message, sure, but I see no reason to doubt that movies with worse intentions and more violence are on the way. The same way seemingly every major American rapper seemingly has to have a crudely filmed self-dramatization in which violence and drug-dealing are facilely explained away on the grounds of social oppression, the need to support family and so on, I suspect the UK will be getting the same very soon.

[Photo: “1 Day,” Blast! Films, 2009]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.