Thanks to hip-hop historians ego trip and Red Bull Music Academy, the three films shown Monday night at Sunshine Cinema, “Reckin Shop: Live From Brooklyn”, “Big Fun in the Big Town” and “Beat This” showed us a moment in time where originality was oozing from NYC’s sidewalks.
Many of us can’t recall NYC in 1986 (you were probably in diapers), but these docs showed us ‘Life Is Fresh, Crack Is Wack’ billboards, gold chains, fresh sneakers and attitude. We saw rare footage of black and Latino youth in the South Bronx stalking the streets with a need to express themselves when the lack of music programs at their schools was leaving them bored and uninspired.
No one was playing it up for the cameras, or wanting to cash in on the sudden wave that was taking over the East Coast. Instead, they felt it was their right to partake in something that was not only accessible to them but up for the taking. Afrika Bambaataa, Schoolly D, Buddha Stretch along with host Jeff Mao shared intimate stories of a time that can feel so far from the hip-hop world we see today.
As we see new musical movements emerge out of the struggles of oppressed minorities (La Santa Cecilia‘s ‘El Hielo’ comes to mind), it’s refreshing to look back to hip-hop’s roots and also see how the political can be elevated into broader cultural movements.
You can watch “Reckin Shop: Live From Brooklyn” in its entirety on YouTube here.