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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]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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