NY premiere of “Big Fun In The Big Town”
Last week my hip hop doc “Big Fun in the Big Town” from 1986 premiered in the New York Maysles filmtheatre. This is what they wrote about it:
BIG FUN IN THE BIG TOWN (1986, Directed by Bram van Splunteren)
There ain’t much that’s truly dependable in life. But if you ever want to experience something can’t-miss/surefire/absolutely, positively, completely and utterly reliable, sit your favorite Golden Era rap fiend friend down with Big Fun In the Big Town for the first time – and watch said friend’s head explode. Ka-blow! Because that’s just how mind-blowing-ly, face-melting-ly, redekulously fresh this thing is. Shot entirely in Gotham in 1986, director Bram van Splunteren’s film is the essential mid-80s hip-hop doc. Loaded with absurdly rare performance and interview footage of a plethora of vital artists and figures (e.g. Mr. Magic and Marley Marl, MC Shan, Grandmaster Flash, Biz Markie and Roxanne Shanté, Russell Simmons, the Last Poets et al), it magnificently captures a special time in rap’s history. A time when the genre was selling millions and gaining fans like wildfire, yet its biggest stars were still shockingly accessible, exceedingly proud spokespersons for the music. Thus we’re privy to such magic moments as DMC freestyling over “Funky Drummer” as the tune blasts from his Caddy parked outside Def Jam’s original Elizabeth Street HQ; Run and the late, great Jam Master Jay in the studio producing forgotten protégé Papa Ron; a visit with LL at his grandma’s house in Queens; Doug E. Fresh impeccably human beat box-ing Kraftwerk’s “Tour de France” on a Harlem street corner; and most prophetically, Schoolly-D backstage at famed venue Latin Quarter, wondering aloud if rap can stay raw the way he likes it, or if it’ll go the way of rock n’ roll and get all “pretty” and corny. Well… we all know how that story ends. But at least there’ll always be Big Fun In The Big Town.
Philadelphia hip hop legend Schoolly D, his daughter and myself at the Maysles Institute, March 25 2010