"Recognize that this game can be hard." - The Alchemist, Hold You Down
I could listen to KRS-One talk about MCing all day. People debate this all the time and I assume it is generally agreed upon but it needs to be said: KRS is the embodiment of the MC. His voice, his energy, his command of whatever conversation he is a part of whether it's on stage or in the alley or at the kitchen table, his vibe just screams MC. If there's anything to get from The MC: Why We Do It it's that. The hour and twenty minute doc wastes some time, in my opinion, going through the history of hip hop before really delving into the nuances of it all. The debates between artists, through interview, about the difference between MCing and rapping are intriguing; the discussion of the idea of keeping it real and the current trends in hip hop and why they exist are insightful with varied outlooks giving weight to the idea that hip hop has splintered and subgenre-d enough where there might be room for all.
There isn't much in the way of new ground here and, outside of MC Lyte, the female MC is missing even when the discussion turns towards mysoginy. Interesting in that conversation, though, is Too $hort's open struggle with how his rhymes might effect the world. He clearly hasn't made peace with it yet despite his attempts at explaining what he does and who he is. Also of interest? Talib Kweli's frank discussion of what he feels are his shortcomings as an MC, Q-Tip's quiet philosopher in contrast to KRS's all-knowing teacher styles, and the literal breaking down of rhymes by MCs and why they are amazing.
Slightly less impressive was a 5 year old retrospective on Spike Lee from The AFI Director Series. It was a little jarring to see Ossie Davis as the first speaker in the piece but his view of the director is probably the strongest in the hour. Maybe my problem with the doc is that it is 5 years old and two of my top five Spike films have come since then, Bamboozled and The 25th Hour. I'm of the opinion that The 25th Hour, while not Spike's most important film, is his best film, just edging out Malcolm X. Wesley Snipes's candor about the problems he sees in Jungle Fever (he doesn't think Spike did enough relationship scenes to show why these characters care about each other) are something to think about though.
I've got She Hate Me tonight as well but it's time to go out. Tomorrow for that. And for some reason, I've been thinking about He Got Game lately too and feel like it deserves another shot.
See, Ray Allen's resurgence with the Sonics this year is worth somethin'.