When N.W.A. made their mark on Hip-Hop in the 1980’s it opened the world not only to khakis and converse culture, but to new genre of rap music called “Gangsta Rap.”
Gangsta Rap music infused Curtis Mayfield’s soul, James Brown’s spirit and the groove of others like the AWB and Funkadelics to create a vibe that most suited the LOCs and Bloods rocking to nasty de-emphasized melodies and chord changes in the funk music found on the radio back then. Out of Gangsta Rap’s musical legacy, a new wave of emceeing and producing was born: G-Funk.
This year, The American Black Film Festival screened the YouTube distributed original documentary, G Funk to a sold out crowd of music and film enthusiasts.
Available to premium YouTube subscribers on July 11th, the doc breaks open the Long Beach petri dish that gave us the greatest rap tradition of the West Coast. This movement introduced the world to Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg, Dogg Pound and those directly influenced by their music. Produced by Warren G and directed by Karam Gill, it centralizes on the creation of the group, 213 (Snoop, Warren and Nate) and how Suge Knight’s label politics and Dr. Dre’s musical genius (or it may introduce a level of doubt of Dre’s genius) broke the group up. Warren G candidly speaks about how his brother, Dr. Dre chose Snoop over him and how that made him feel. Above all, the movie chronicles how influential G Funk is on Hip-Hop as a culture and progressive movement linked to the ethnomusicological syntax of the Los Angeles in the 90s.
The film is candid and well done. It zones in on many themes that make movies great: loyalty, creativity, drama and celebration.
Interviews by legends like Snoop, Ice Cube, Russell Simmons, Chuck D, Deion Sanders, Big Boy, Kurupt & Daz Dillinger, Too Short, The Lady of Rage, Wiz Khalifa, Ice T, The D.O.C., E-40 and many more are paraded across the screen to give viewers the first hand “say so” about that special time and the various perspectives on the victors and victims of G-Funk’s success. It also uses old and rare footage from these rap music’s giants that will magically transport you to a time when that gangsta funk ruled the airwaves. YouTube’s decision to air the doc in July pushes the conversation of Black music celebration past the month designation that Dyana Williams and others pushed Pres. Jimmy Carter for in 1979. And it should. Black Music, like Black History, is American culture and should be considered year-round.
G-Funk, as a doc and of course as a genre of music, should also be considered year-round.