Tag Archives: tupac

Penetrating Personal Space in Juice

I’ve had the 25th anniversary edition of Juice (Ernest R. Dickerson, 1992) for a few years and finally watched it today.  I was suddenly in the mood.

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According to the making-of featurette, the director had envisioned making a film adaptation of Claude Brown’s autobiography Manchild in the Promised Land, and upon graduating from NYU, he conceived of the film as a film noir with high school kids in Harlem.  Co-written by Gerard Brown, Juice follows a brief period of time in the lives of a group of friends Quincy aka Q (Omar Epps), Bishop (Tupac Shakur), Steel (Jermaine Hopkins), and Raheem (Khalil Kain) and the consequences of one of their actions.

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As I watched the film, three contemplations occupied my mind:

~ Penetrating personal space is an act of intimacy or menace, depending on the situation.  A person who threatens someone else invades personal space faster than a person will inflict gestures of lust onto another person.  You can desire someone else with much intensity and do nothing that would suggest that’s the case.  The viewer might know that two charaters are not going to kiss just because their faces are that close together, but there is a moment when the passion that underlies an act of domination could become one of passion…if the genre and plot were different.

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~ Quincy is you — everyone sucks here.  One gun in a friend group is no good.  Everyone having a gun isn’t that much better (unless you’re in a western, I suppose).

~ During the first day of intro to film in college, the professor brought up The Matrix (Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, 1999) and how we, the audience, know that Neo is the protagonist.  Aside from casting choices, costume, lighting, and the story, how does one determine that this person is supposed to have our support?  I thought about this question when watching Juice and how we know that Quincy is this character.  For me, it was because he’s the only one who has a hobby that can be monetized within the story world.  Q is an amateur DJ and the film spends a considerable amount of screen and narrative time on it (not to the extent that there’s a hidden “sports film” in there, but it’s important).  His friends aren’t given the kind of potential that he has in a conventional sense, which makes two of them disposable…after the film establishes which of his friends is the antagonist.

Watch some of the making-of clips here.

Pic creds: IMDB, Amazon

All Eyez on ALiEN Dance Studio

I’ve written about the Kinjaz but I haven’t yet about ALiEN Dance Studio.  In my many YouTube travels, I came across this choreography video of Tinashe‘s song “2 On” and was entranced.  I’ve seen several male-only and mixed-gender dance crew videos on YT with much admiration and excitement, but ALiEN Dance Studio brings a bold and sensually precise dimension to the dance moves.

Their videos of Bruno Mars and Britney Spears songs leave me speechless.

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While we’re on the subject of grooving tunes, I watched All Eyez on Me (Benny Boom, 2017) over the weekend.  While I enjoyed the film and loved the music, I agree with many of the criticisms of the film discussed here on Reddit.  When Tupac Shakur was successfully navigating the rap scene in the 1990s, I was listening to The Cranberries, Cake, Dishwalla, Live, Bjork, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, TLC, En Vogue — basically lots of alternative rock and top 40s pop/rock and r&b.  While I knew who Tupac was and had come across his music by virtue of being a teenager of the 90s and immersed in pop-cultural media, it wasn’t until I saw the music video for “Gangsta Party” (aka “2 of Amerikaz’s Most Wanted”) featuring Snoop Dogg that I paid (more) attention to his voice and presence. I liked the rhythm of the song.

During the late 90s through the mid-2000s, I listened primarily to Asian pop music (Japanese, Korean and Chinese (Mandarin).  Given the way Korean pop, hip-hop, and hip-pop have evolved in the last few years, I feel as though I owe my taste for Tupac’s music to Korean hip-pop. *  Specifically, these kinds of tunes:

 

There is no soundtrack for All Eyez on Me, but Tupac’s albums are available to own.  After YouTubing a few of the songs on his album of the same name, I went to Best Buy and got it.  Let me tell you, driving while listening to “All About You” has been so much fun.  Snoop Dogg’s narration at the end is hilarious.  It’s also interesting to realize that “Recipe” by Kpop girl group Brown Eyed Girls lyrically samples “How Do You Want It.”

 

So why would I watch a movie about a rapper whom I didn’t really listen to when he was still alive?  I saw Notorious (George Tillman Jr., 2009) in theatres out of curiosity and not too long ago watched Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray, 2015).  I figured I’d have to watch the Tupac biopic for symmetry.

* I am aware that American hip-hop heavily influenced Korean hip-pop.