Saturday, March 24, 2007

How Come No One’s Ever Made An Animated Hip Hop Film Before?* AKA Dartflix Edition #12

I remember listening to Slum Village’s “Fantastic Vol. 2” for the first time with my brother and I heard the following line uttered by one of the members ,“I rock and rule like Mok”...We were like “Yo!”. “Rock & Rule” was this animated movie with a rock soundtrack (featuring Blondie, Cheap Trick, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Earth, Wind & Fire) where the characters were all rock musicians that had their own signature songs. I had it on VHS back in the days and it used to come on cable sporadically back in the 80’s and early 90’s. Of course, it went out of print and some opportunistic people made a killing selling VCD copies of it on EBay for years until the good people over at Unearthed Films rereleased it last fall in a 2 disc set(God bless y’all).

Along with this movie I can count Ralph Bakshi’s animated ode to the history of American music, “American Pop” (Bakshi is best known for creating Fritz The Cat, Heavy Traffic, Coon Skin, and let us never forget him blindly ripping off Vaughn and Mark Bode’s “Cobalt 60” for his animated film “Wizards”) and the film adaptation of the stories and art contained in Heavy Metal Magazine, “Heavy Metal”. I am a huge fan of all three of these movies but the question remains, after 30+ years of Hip Hop culture and Rap music invading the American mainstream, how come there hasn’t been a “Heavy Metal”-ish movie made for Hip Hop audiences?

In recent years, studios greenlit an animated feature adaptation of Robin Harris’ “Bebe’s Kids” which featured “urban music” (and I pray that the Men In Black exist so they can erase my memory of it). Legendary turntablist DJ Q-Bert helped to produce the animated film to go along with his album “Wave Twisters” and Techno/Dance/Trip Hop duo Daft Punk collaborated with Japan’s legendary anime house Toei Studios to produce the animated companion to their “Discovery” album called “Interstellar 5555: 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem”. So far no one’s either thought of or pitched the idea to make an animated film with a hip hop soundtrack behind it a la “American Pop”, “Rock & Rule” or “Heavy Metal” yet...

I find this surprising considering how many makeshift anime rap videos I’ve seen on Nightsessions TV in the past, the marriage of Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” with Stones Throw and their subsequent collaborations (“Dangerdoom” and the “Chrome Children” series) and the breakout success of animated series like “Samurai Champloo”, "The Boondocks" and “Afro Samurai”. You mean to tell me that a Robotech/Gundam hybrid movie with fighting mecha, voice acting by RZA, MF Doom, Common, Madlib and ill Wu Tang/J Dilla instrumentals playing in the background wouldn’t put asses in the seats? Shit, people are PAYING to see “Norbit”!

For whatever reason, it still hasn’t happened yet. Do studios need to be convinced that a hip hop themed animated feature would find an audience here and overseas? Are they afraid that it might attract an “undesireable element” to the theatre? Or has it just not been pitched to me properly or scripted the right way yet? The Sound Scientists (from my 32 Producers on MySpace list) informed me that they are working on a pilot for an animated series and they may or may not pitch it to the bigwigs on Williams Street. I wish them luck, for now I’ll just have to be content to watching “Ninja Scroll” on mute while playing Ayatollah instrumentals.

* If anyone wants to take this idea and run with it I claim rights to it first on that intellectual properties tip, if you want me to present you with a treatment, concepts or help with the pitch to make this a reality, get at me.

Movies avaible to rent through Netflix:
American Pop
Heavy Metal
Rock & Rule
Fire & Ice
Wave Twisters
Interstellar 5555: 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
The Virgin Suicides
Open Your Eyes
Starchaser: Legend Of Orin
Golgo 13: The Professional
Amores Perros
Tzameti 13
Throne Of Blood
Sword Of Doom
Come Drink With Me
The One Armed Swordsman
Lady Snowblood (blueprint for The Bride in Kill Bill)
Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song Of Vengeance
Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven In Hell
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart To Hades
Lady Vengeance
Princess Blade
The Weatherman
Sympathy For The Underdog
Suspect Zero
Phone (Korea)

Dart’s ThreeTrailers Of The Week (3/18/07-3/25/07):


Pirates Of The Carribean: At World's End

Dart’s Picks:
13 Tzameti- The less I tell about this film, the more of a surprise it will be for you when you see it. I’m going to be as vague as possible so as not to give any spoilers and not come off as an asshole while doing so (pretty damn hard to do, IMO). It’s in black & white, has subtitles and it won hella awards at film festivals all over the world. Just rent it and watch it...Trust me.

Brick- I love this movie. It’s a present day noir thriller set in a California high school that’s both well acted and well scripted. The lead actor totally redeems his performance in the godawful flick Havoc. Try to watch this joint with the subtitles on so as not to miss any of the may take a couple of watches to catch all of the extra nuances. Great first feature from a young director.

London- My brother and I just watch this movie again last night (It’s On Demand on Camcast digital cable) and we caught mad more stuff we missed the first 4 or 5 times we saw it. It’s an ill character based movie that draws you into the characters through their interaction with each other. It actually convinced me that Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) can act! (A feat in itself). Features Jason Statham, Jessica Biel, Joy Bryant, Kelli Garner, Isla Fisher and even Paula Patton makes a cameo...damn good movie (a shitload of coke snorting, though).

Dart’s WTF/Watch This Bullshit At Your Own Risk Award:
Rocky Balboa- A 60 year old punch drunk/brain damaged ex world champ gets back in the ring again...Does he win? Do I really give a fuck? Make Tango & Cash 2, Rambo 4, Cobra 2 and then sit your old ass down, Sly.



Joe said...

Why doesn't Wave Twisters count as an animated hip-hop film?

Lasonic TRC-931 said...

I helped make these cartoons and they're hip-hop to me!"


Dart Adams said...

Joe asked:
Why doesn't Wave Twisters count as an animated hip-hop film?

While it is an animated hip hop film, it wasn't released in theatres and produced by a major studio (like Rock & Rule, American Pop and Heavy Metal were). Also, Wave Twisters was released on video only after the Wave Twisters album had already been released, plus it was geared towards a niche market (hip hop/turntablism fans)...not like a studio film that's in wide release. Hence my questions throughout the blog. One.

Dallas Penn said...

I think the idea is coming around wth the success of the Boondock's series. Surprisingly enough is that ATHF is greenlit when it isn't even one of Adult Swim's best or funniest series.

I'm a wild animation fan and I would ask you to add these two films to your list of faves...
Ninja Scroll a/k/a The Wind Ninja Chronicle


btw the Bode's are the shizznit.

Unknown said...

Yet another Top Notch post from the master and a very good question raised, an animated Hip Hop film would be the style of Boondocks...why don't you do one Dart?


Mils said...

I've followed the Dart from Okayplayer and I must say after spending, probably too much of my time today reading as much from his blog's archives as I can find, this is my favorite blog to date. Keep doing the damn thing


Masked Norteno said...

well, they are making Rambo 4...

Dart Adams said...

Thanks Mils, I appreciate it. One.

alley al said...

dart, sorry, buddy, but i got no one else to babble to about this in length:

my sis is visiting from out west, so a friend of ours that moved to ct came down for the weekend.. he brought over 2 booklets of mostly animae and kung fu flicks. at least a coupla hundred dvds in those books. he has more, but they're in storage. it was on.

i don't have much of a history with japanimae (excuse me if my vocab is wrong) except with fist of the north star, naked city, ghosts in the shell, and ninja scrolls. i have those on vhs, and i also like princess mononake, and i got schooled on spirited away in 2001, but i don't know if those 2 count.

anyway, cuz of the last 2, my boy gave me whisper of the heart (watched it- not as good as the other 2) and ocean waves- didn't see it, yet.
he said that it's a must to have the cowboy bebop series and samurai champloo so i got like 12 dvds of those or so, with like 4 episodes on each dvd. i also got the coboy bebop movie. i didn't see of any of those, yet. i already know the music/soundtracks associated with these 2, so i'm looking forward to watching 'em.
he hooked me up with ghosts in the shell 2: innocence cuz he said he liked it better than the first.
i also got appleseed.

he was able to remove the regional codes on the ones that had them, but the pal stuff couldn't be easily converted to ntsc on his laptop (my computer effed up the friday he got here).

my history with kung fu flicks isn't wu-tang savvy cuz i grew up in different places, but i've seen some shit growing up.
dude hooked my up with sha po lang with sammy hung as the bad guy, and that shit was off the hook. i'd heard sammy hung (the fat kung fu dude) went to school with jackie chan so i asked if jackie had similar movies, and i got hooked up with new police story.
he also gave my lady assassin and lady snowblood. i saw those. i didn't like the first, and the 2nd one was pretty good, tho i only see very little resemblance to the bride/kill bill.
i took shaolin soccer just cuz it's dope as hell and funny, too. i already have kung fu hustle. he gave me another one by the same director, but i don't know which one.. the bodyguard? or magnificent butcher? sorry, i can't remember.
i also tok pan's labyrinth which is spanish fantasy type shit, but it's dope and it's new in the movies, but he ordered it from overseas.
and he just burned me these sorta randomly whenever we were just sitting around the crib, which was a lot: i don't know which is just kung fu or which is cartoons::
kid with a golden arm
new tales of the flying fox
the magic blade
clan of the white lotus
invincible shaolin
10 tigers of kwang tung
king of beggars
monkey kung fu aka stroke of death
the duelist
shadowless sword
bang rajan
golden swallow
and i just watched the young auntie- funny shit right there.

i think i got 36 flicks this weekend. whoa!! i can't watch 'em all at once. it's a bit tedious at this age. plus, all the subtitle-reading hurts my eyes. and my tv isn't that big, so that's even worse.

sorry for the long babble. i had to share that with someone, cuz i'm mad souped i got these shits!!