Blair Underwood, Rick Rubin, Sheila E., Run-DMC
The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, New Edition, LL CoolJ, Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, Jason Mizell, Mark Morales, Damon Wimbley, Darren Robinson, Ricky Bell (II), Michael Lamone Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronald De Voe, Ralph E. Tresvant, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Daniel Simmons, Russell Simmons, Charles Stettler, Sal Abbatiello Update Cast
You know, I've had a love/hate affair with the genre for as long as I can remember. On the one hand, I love older rap music (anything from The Sugarhill Gang up to 3rd Bass). On the other hand, modern-day rap holds no appeal for me. In the modern day and in all its' trappings, rap music is as subtle as having your skull cracked against the wall with a sledgehammer. That's why I'm thankful for a movie like "Krush Groove", which shows us rap music before it went to the Dogg's...and Dre's...and Eminem's...and 50 Cent's...Well, you get the picture.
This movie is more or less the tale of the rise of Def Jam Records, here referred to as Krush Groove Records. Russell Simmons is here called Russell Walker (played by Underwood...Simmons himself has a supporting role as a man named Crocket). Together with his partner Rick (Rubin, playing himself, more or less), Walker is working on bringing the sound of rap music to New York City and eventually the world. First things first...Get your acts known. The big ticket in Russell's hand is Run-DMC (Joseph "Run" Simmons, Daryll "DMC" McDaniels and the late Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell). Their song "King Of Rock" is blowing up huge and influencing people the city over. Among the 3 who feel inspired by the Kings Of Rock (of whom there are none higher), we find Mark "Prince Markie D" Morales, Damon "Kool Rock Ski" Wimbley, and Darren "The Human Beat Box" Robinson, together known as The Disco 3...for now, at any rate.
After Run-DMC quit their car wash jobs, they head to church to visit Run's father, the Reverend Walker (Daniel Simmons, Run and Russell's real-life father). Russell drops in to ask his dad for $5,000 (to cover record processing). The good Reverend refuses, saying that this is a test of God that the younger Walker will have to pass on his own. Taking his mind off money matters, Russell and Run-DMC visit legendary rap venue Disco Fever to catch some tunes and get some drinks. Up on stage is a woman who will change the men's lives forever. She's a gorgeous, firey singer-cum-drum player who goes by the name Sheila E. (herself). Performing the scintillatingly sexy song "A Love Bizarre", the Walker brothers find themselves entranced by her. After the performances, they take some drinks and get to know each other. Soon, Russell and Sheila will be acquainted in more ways than one. No time for that now, though, because the next day, Walker and Rick are off to the bank to procure a loan. The loan officer turns them down, since he has no idea about what rap music is. The tides will soon turn, though. Worried about the money, Russell follows a potentially deadly tip and gets his loan from a wealthy hustler named Jay B. (Richard Gant).
Back at Sheila's apartment, Run and DMC are chilling and listening to Sheila and one of her bandmates work on a new tune. This song will have its debut that evening at a big concert. After Kurtis Blow (another Krush Groover, a veteran producer and a longtime friend of the Walkers) performs his hit "If I Ruled The World", Run-DMC take the stage. They don't bust rhymes, but they do introduce Sheila to a large audience. The song she performs is a combination of rap and Latin jazz entitled "Hollyrock". This peeves Walker to no end. He gives his brother Run a stern talking to after the performance and pushes him to go back onstage. This is where we're introduced to a chant that will become a rallying cry for the group in later years.
"Whose house? RUN'S HOUSE!"
This leads into another big hit, the perennial favorite "It's Like That". Later at a club, Run and Russell confront each other. This leads to Walker taking Sheila home and Run taking a ride from the owner of Galaxy Records. Having earlier put the offer to Russell to take his acts to Galaxy in exchange for some sizable cash, then having it refused, the offer goes to Run. He takes it and the groups are on their way. Walker doesn't know that yet, though. He finds out the next day at a big talent contest. Missing out on a performance by LL Cool J back at Krush Groove headquarters, Russell listens to several acts, including New Edition, The Beastie Boys and The Disco 3. After some apprehension on Kool Rock Ski's part, the group take their places and perform "Pump It Up-Let's Get Funky". They lose to New Edition and at the same time they fail, so does Walker in his self-control. Taking a swing at Run for going behind his back, he finds himself walking out of Disco Fever, starting a path that will leave him bloodied and humbled. The Disco 3 take solace in food...To be specific, a buffet at Sbarro's, which is the set-up for the musical number "All You Can Eat". When they make it home, they decide to be themselves. Henceforth, they're no longer The Disco 3...They're THE FAT BOYS! Proving themselves at a concert, they finally get the success they hoped for.
Needing to get new Krush Groove tunes to the street, Russell rushes Sheila into the studio to record "Hollyrock". At the same time, Run-DMC and Kurtis Blow are suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous good fortune. Walker unfortunately finds that since he lost his groups and got entangled with Jay B., no one will play his tunes anymore. Getting a message to the gut from two of Jay's goons to give him the money he was loaned, Russell runs to Sheila's apartment. He shares a night of passion with her to the sounds of The Force M.Ds' "Tender Love" before he heads back to Krush Groove homebase to meet the inevitable.
With his record label and his life on the line, Run comes to the rescue and reconciles with his brother. Agreeing to a management contract (even though Run-DMC and the rest will stay with Galaxy for recording purposes), all's well that ends well. Now everybody's Krush Grooving, rap is going nationwide, and the world will never be the same...
For better, or for worse.
Perhaps it's because I'm such an 80s fan, or maybe it's due to my sociopolitical standings and beliefs, but rap music does nothing for me nowadays...The new stuff, that is. The old-school stuff I can listen to for hours.
I may get the old "The Kids Haven't Changed...You Have" spiel from "The Breakfast Club", but I do feel that in the almost 2 decades since this movie was released, rap music has changed, and not for the better. All you need are a stack of 80s music CDs, a book of curse words, a rhyming dictionary, a couple of ladies on each arm and maybe a couple of bullets in your body, and PRESTO, you're a rapper. Back then, it required talent and subtlety. That's why we should be thankful for movies like this. They show rap music the way it was and the way it will never be again.
I give it an 8.5.
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