Tuesday, June 30, 2009

InstaRapFlix 19: Beef 2

Woot! Netflix returned the Beef sequels to their Instant Viewing List, so it's back on. As you may remember from InstaRapFlix #11, I was pleasantly surprised by the original outing. So now we're going to find out if Beef 2 (Netflix rating: 2 stars) holds up to its predecessor.

It starts out with a skippable "history of rap" kinda opening... the last one also had a skippable opening (essentially explaining the history of rap music), but this one's closer to 90 seconds, so it's no big deal. The film's narrated by Keith David (of John Carpenter's The Thing, etc) this time around. Anytime anyone takes the opportunity to replace Ving Rhames with Keith David, I'm all for it; so this movie already has me on its side.

It's starts of with the infamous "Roxanne" wars... It features interviews with Roxanne Shante (I seriously question her claim that there were over 55 response records to her), Kangol, Marley Marl, and more; so it's fun. But considering you could fill several full-length documentaries trying to adequately cover the Roxanne saga, it feels more than a bit rushed. In only about two minute's time, it's already segued into "The Bridge Is Over." And in another minute, it's already onto "Big Mama;" and that gets literally just one and a half sentence's worth of coverage.

And that's basically this entire film summed it. It's fun, because it interviews the artists and covers fun records. But it's so involved in trying to be a comprehensive overview, of both diss records and hip-hop's history in general, that it never digs in and gets really compelling. It also has some hammy, preachy (in the writing) narration, and at times you start to feel like you're watching some ultra-corny Cops knock-off on Fox. But you'll enjoy hearing Priority Records employee talk about the time Ice Cube (and friends) came in and assaulted one of its CEOs... you'll enjoy hearing Parrish Smith talking about pulling up to his house while it was being broken into by Erick Sermon's boys... You'll definitely get a kick out of K-Solo taking a lie detector test to prove that he wrote "Spellbound!" no doubt. So it's a no-brainer recommendation.

But you'll be like, "what? It's over already!?" after every single segment - especially the old school ones; they really get put in the backseat behind the contemporary (at the time... now they're all old) dramas. This was a decent, definitely-worth-a-watch movie. It just could have been a really great documentary (or several great documentaries) if they'd just taken their time with it.

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