FEAR OF A BLACK HAT
Review by Gordon Justesen
Rusty Cundieff, Larry B. Scott, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Kasi Lemmons
Director: Rusty Cundieff
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 88 Minutes
Release Date: July 8, 2003
anti-violent. Anyone says different, I'll bust a cap in their ass!”
music is as big today as it has ever been. Like all genres of music, most
people, like myself, have embraced it, while others simply can't stand it.
Since the birth of hip-hop, many of the music most popular artists, and pioneers
for that matter, have come under fire through because of the racy material that
lies within the music. Fear of a Black Hat,
made nearly ten years ago, is a dead-on mockumentary spoof of such
heavy-controversial rap acts as N.W.A. and 2 Live Crew. In other words, it does
for rap music what This is Spinal Tap
did for, or to, heavy metal music of the early 80s.
film is a behind the scenes look at a controversial rap act that, like many
actual rap artists, manages to unintentionally stir controversy and sell
millions of records simultaneously. The rap group is known as N.W.H. (N****z
With Hats), an act made up of three hardcore rappers, Ice Cold (Rusty Cundieff),
Tasty Taste (Larry B. Scott), and Tone-Def (Mark Christopher Lawrence). N.W.H.
is the subject of a documentary, narrated by producer/interviewer Nina Blackburn
give you an idea of their level of heated controversy, the group's latest
album, titled “Fear of a Black Hat”, contains a track called “Kill
Whitey”; a much-debated song that Ice Cold feels was completely misunderstood
and unfairly labeled as a “racist” song, when in actuality, the song was
nothing less than a harmless artistic statement.
Even though N.W.H. find themselves making the same statement song after
song, it just seems awkward that the group regards their material as social
commentary, while at the same time naming a good deal of their songs after parts
of the female anatomy. The group also makes it clear that most important aspect
of N.W.H. are the hats they wear. Cundieff, who wrote and directed the film,
makes a hilarious argument that the purpose of the hats is to signify that in
the days of slavery, field hands were not allowed to wear hats, making the
ability to don a hat a sign of revolution for blacks everywhere.
have to give writer/director Cundieff credit for not leaving anyone associated
with rap, or the entire music industry for that matter, off the hook. All areas
of the business are lampooned, from the white managers, to the head of the
record labels, and all the way down to the uptight venue manager, who is
targeted in one hilarious scene where N.W.H., labeled as “Guest Stars” on a
marquee at a concert, can't seem to convince the owner that they are scheduled
to perform. White rappers aren't
safe from lampooning, as N.W.H. seem to run into a rival caucasian rapper named
Vanilla Sherbet more than they would like to. The biggest laugh is
unquestionably the running joke about the group's manager getting shot.
of a Black Hat
is as sharp and brutally funny as any spoof of hip-hop music could hope to be.
The satirical touch of the film holds true even after ten years, as rap music,
as big and explosive as ever, continues to entertain and raise eyes brows
the best of my knowledge, Columbia Tri Star was never known for releasing a
non-anamorphic transfer, but in that case, Fear
of a Black Hat is a first. This isn't really a big complaint at all, but
the plain fact is the image quality isn't too superb. For starters, there are
several noticeable spots of grain that seem to appear on and off, and the
overall picture detail is somewhat lacking in radiant quality. True, the movie
is ten years old, but movies from the 90s turn out terrific, most of the time.
Not a horrific job, but so much could've been improved.
movie does contain many music cues, and those scenes are without a doubt that
high point of this audio presentation. The 2.0 mix does the musical aspect well,
but other than that, I couldn't detect much level of extended dynamic range,
which is rather difficult if the mix isn't that of a 5.1 presentation.
Dialogue is well heard, but for the most part the sound power seems to be
igniting from the front area.
an ill package, if you'll excuse my phrasing. There is a very funny commentary
track by writer/director Rusty Cundieff, whose narration is endlessly humorous.
In addition, there are 14 deleted scenes with optional commentary, 12 music
videos (which are actually cut from the film), 4 interview segments with cast
members, and two trailers, as well as bonus trailers for Bad Boys II, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, and Laurel