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Cameron H.

Musical Mondays - Week 16 - Krush Groove (1985)

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What this feels like is that it was a movie designed to sell a soundtrack (kind of like Blues Brothers 2000, which I maintain has the best soundtrack in movie history--but jesus that movie sucks). It's a collection of set-ups to get us to songs.

 

Re: The Fat Boyz, I think they were in the movie because of Kurtis Blow. It looks like he did their music or produced them (based on the credits), plus "beatboxing" was relatively new at the time, so it was a way to showcase that.

 

It's interesting to see the shades of what is to come in this movie though. RUN DMC hadn't even hit the top yet, but The Fat Boyz were doing the beatboxing thing plus bringing comedy to rap, The Beastie Boys were doing white kid rap, and in LL Cool J, you can see the beginnings of the transition to the 90s era rap.

 

What is interesting is that I"m listening to the Mougel podcast, which covers a lot of the same ground and same players, so it is interesting to compare and contrast the two stories.

 

There could have been a story here, but I think Russell Simmons was looking to introduce rap as something "safe" to mainstream America and avoid stories of crews fighting over girls, of powering turntables via street lamps.

 

There's also no reason this needed to be rated R except that they wanted all those fucks.

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What this feels like is that it was a movie designed to sell a soundtrack (kind of like Blues Brothers 2000, which I maintain has the best soundtrack in movie history--but jesus that movie sucks). It's a collection of set-ups to get us to songs.

 

 

 

I think this, and the very crowded nature of the plot (Run DMC, Fat Boyz, Russel, and Sheila E all having their own plotlines) make this seem like a direct descendant of the Rock n' Roll musical movies of the 1950s and 60s. Think Rock Around the Clock, the few Chuck Berry movies made to showcase him, the Elvis movies, or even the beach movie in That Thing You Do. Granted, those movies were more designed to sell a single or an artist rather than a soundtrack (since the modern conception of a soundtrack didn't really exist then), but it's the same idea. I think this was intentional by Rubin and Russel Simmons, as they were creating the "Hip-Hop is the new Rock n' Roll" narrative since the very beginnings of Def Jam. Through cultural touchstones almost as much as the music, they've been instrumental in making it true.

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I tried to watch this movie. I really did. I think I got about 25 minutes in and I kept getting distracted and losing interest.

giphy.gif

Then I kind of skipped around to see the Sbarro scene for that one song. Yeah.....

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If the Sbarro deal is 3.99 for 'all you can eat', why does the guy say they owe more money after they go up for their second tray full of slops?????

 

All you can eat means as much as you can possibly eat....nowhere does it say that this is limited to how much food you can fit on a tray or that you will be charged 'per tray'

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Kurtis Blow = Aragorn

LL Cool J = Legolas

The Fat Boys = Gimli

Run = Boromir

DMC and Jam Master Jay = Merry and Pippin

Russell = Frodo

Rick Rubin = Samwise

Sheila E = Arwen (but mostly default due to fact that LotR and Krush Groove have the same ratio of women to men)

Sal Abatiello = Luigi

 

krush-groove.jpg

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Also, here's a link especially for CamBert. It's Sheila performing Holly Rock live. Every time I try and watch it I get "This can only be watched on YouTube" even though I'm on YouTube! Maybe it's a country limitation thing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taZdi28YHE8

 

ETA: Maybe CamBert can see it since I assume this was shared in Japan. The video title is

シーラ・E SHEILA E - HOLLY ROCK(LIVE 1986) .

Nope sorry I still have to go to Youtube to watch it. Maybe it's how they set it up. Not sure.

 

Here's where I feel like I have to defend my choice of the Fat Boyz song. I actually really enjoy Run DMC so I had heard all their songs so many times that none of them stuck with me. My only experience with Fat Boyz music is their songs that appear in Disorderlies and there colab with the Beach Boys. There for hearing it kind for the first time, combined with just the WTF-ness of the scene means it got stuck in my head. Is it the best song? Not even close, but probably due to the visceral reaction to the scene it's forever burnt within my mind.

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Here's my main problem with the movie, it needed to decide if it was about Russel and Krush Groove records or about The Fat Boyz getting famous. However I don't think either story really had enough to work with and seem more like a collection of scenes than a proper story. Especially the Fat Boyz story. One likes a girl and just happens to get with her in the end after one scene of them together. The other doesn't want to compete but gives in easily and even though the human beatbox is crying after not placing when they win a record contract doesn't care because he'd rather the stereo. There is no arc or anything. Russel's story at least does have an arc, but it just seems so hurried that things are brought up and immediately resolved. Then when the story is starting to move we have to watch the Fat Boyz for awhile killing any real momentum. I half wonder if this was because aside from Blair Underwood none of them were trained actors and they didn't want to have to act too much.

 

Edit: Am I alone in thinking the line about contracts and nothing in writing was going to come back in some way? It seemed to be hinting and foreshadowing to something. Like Russel would pay off the loan shark and when he demanded more he'd pull that line on him.

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Here's my main problem with the movie, it needed to decide if it was about Russel and Krush Groove records or about The Fat Boyz getting famous. However I don't think either story really had enough to work with and seem more like a collection of scenes than a proper story.

The natural arc would have started with the earliest days, with Russell promoting Kurtis Blow, followed by the founding of Def Jam and the massive success of Run DMC. But like others noted the movie wasn't really about the story. It seems like it was about promoting artists. Def Jam wants to promote their artists (Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, etc.), Warner Brothers wants to promote their artist (Sheila E.), and Schultz/Warner Studios wants to build around the Fat Boys. It seems like there was the feeling by many that rap was still just a novelty that would fade like disco did, so tons of people were motivated to cash in as early as possible. This came a year after the Breakin' movies -- an obvious cash grab for Cannon -- plus Wild Style and Beat Street, the latter of which made a lot of money.

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The natural arc would have started with the earliest days, with Russell promoting Kurtis Blow, followed by the founding of Def Jam and the massive success of Run DMC. But like others noted the movie wasn't really about the story. It seems like it was about promoting artists. Def Jam wants to promote their artists (Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, etc.), Warner Brothers wants to promote their artist (Sheila E.), and Schultz/Warner Studios wants to build around the Fat Boys. It seems like there was the feeling by many that rap was still just a novelty that would fade like disco did, so tons of people were motivated to cash in as early as possible. This came a year after the Breakin' movies -- an obvious cash grab for Cannon -- plus Wild Style and Beat Street, the latter of which made a lot of money.

So would you say that this movie is more for people who are fans of the genre looking to see people they like or was it trying to promote the genre? It's hard to tell because being so far removed from that time we all now know who Rick Ruben and Russel Simmons are and who most of the artists are (although I confess to not knowing Kurtis Blow prior to this) but this movie does have a scene in which they try to explain what is rap to the banker implying made it's trying to reach a mass audience.

 

If you were trying to sell rap to the public you think the Fat Boyz story of a group of high school kids looking to make it big would be a better story to get people into it. I know the argument will be that with the Russel story line you have built in acts and artists to showcase but you could do that with similar scenes like Kurtis Blow and the Fat Boyz had or them working there way up in the business and seeing club acts and talent show acts like the movie did anyway.

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So would you say that this movie is more for people who are fans of the genre looking to see people they like or was it trying to promote the genre?

I think it was the latter. Run DMC had just broken out (certified gold!), were massively more successful than anyone who preceded them, and even then they had peaked at around 50 on the album charts.

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Anyone else spot the kid in the blue polo shirt?

 

chris-rock-krush-groove.jpg

I saw him mentioned in the Wikipedia article but missed him in the movie. I also missed Russell Simmons' cameo as the club owner Crocket.

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If the Sbarro deal is 3.99 for 'all you can eat', why does the guy say they owe more money after they go up for their second tray full of slops?????

 

All you can eat means as much as you can possibly eat....nowhere does it say that this is limited to how much food you can fit on a tray or that you will be charged 'per tray'

 

 

"but the sign said 'all you can eat'.."

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"but the sign said 'all you can eat'.."

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You go now! You here four hour!

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Yeah, it kind of did.

I took Blondie and a bunch of downtown NY new wave buddies uptown to a rap show only once. It was at a PAL, (Police Athletic League) at 183rd and Webster Ave. They loved it all, especially Debbie.

 

From the same website:

People argue over this song’s place in the history of rap. Was it… the first rap song? The first commercial rap song? The first rap song to sell X number of copies / place X on the Billboard charts? The first rap song by a female to be one of the above?

The answer to all of the above is “not really,” but it admittedly depends on your definitions. And while Rapper’s Delight was a regional hit (and first), “Rapture” was the first #1 nationally-charting song of its nature. Fab Five Freddy puts it this way:

For a lot of the white, mainstream public, it was the first time that they heard anybody rap, and it kinda paved the way, you could say, for what was about to come.

Granted, this is talking about Rapture/Debbie Harry from a modern perspective and whether or not the song/she deserves to be canonized. That's not really the same thing as talking about it at the time and credibility. I have pretty mixed feelings about it. So, my speculation leans negative and, therefore, maybe not accurate. It's always felt a bit like appropriation done with genuine admiration on Harry's part.

 

Now the lyrics are terrible, but that was pretty much the standard at the time. Harry at least wrote her lyrics and didn't steal them (like Big Bank Hank of the Sugarhill Gang). Probably worth remembering that people hadn't grown up with hip hop yet. Rap was being invented on the fly.

This is definitely true. It's also one of my biggest beefs with The Get Down. The rap in that is way too advanced for what anyone was doing in the late 1970s.

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I think it was the latter. Run DMC had just broken out (certified gold!), were massively more successful than anyone who preceded them, and even then they had peaked at around 50 on the album charts.

The Fat Boys busted out right around the same time, though (to combine this with your post from earlier about why they were in the movie). Their first album came out about two month's after Run-DMC's first. It was certified gold about a year later, while Run-DMC's album took 9 months to reach gold. However, Fat Boys reached #48 on the Billboard 200, while RUN-D.M.C. reached 53. Obviously, Run-DMC has had the longer staying power, but The Fat Boys were pretty big at the time, too (no pun intended).

 

---

 

Anyway, this whole movie, all I could think of was Donald Glover's bit where he talks about old school rap:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1bbBqnG_cg&feature=youtu.be&t=1m40s

 

(The timestamp in the URL doesn't seem to be working; the part in question starts at 1:40)

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I confess to not knowing Kurtis Blow prior to this.

Not uncommon!

 

I first heard of Kurtis Blow when Chris Rock used him as a punchline in CB4:

 

7b27e037-9f9d-4bb2-8038-37dc8fd885c9_text_hi.gif

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Not uncommon!

 

I first heard of Kurtis Blow when Chris Rock used him as a punchline in CB4:

 

7b27e037-9f9d-4bb2-8038-37dc8fd885c9_text_hi.gif

I'm not sure I know much more of Kurtis Blow now then I did before seeing the film. He got as much of a bad deal out of this as Run did but in a different way. It's funny that this movie is intended as an origin story when it feels like a sequel. Like Jason has often said, I want to see the movie before this movie.

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I'm not sure I know much more of Kurtis Blow now then I did before seeing the film. He got as much of a bad deal out of this as Run did but in a different way. It's funny that this movie is intended as an origin story when it feels like a sequel. Like Jason has often said, I want to see the movie before this movie.

 

I thought Kurtis was treated pretty fairly. He's not in it much, but he's treated with reverence and gives The Fat Boys their break.

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I thought Kurtis was treated pretty fairly. He's not in it much, but he's treated with reverence and gives The Fat Boys their break.

He even gets to show off his acting chops in the rooftop chin-up scene with Blair Underwood.

 

Speaking of which, I counted three professional actors in this movie: Blair Underwood, LisaGay Hamilton, and Richard Gant. If you want to count LL, that brings the number up to four. Everyone else is either an extra or a cameo by a musician, club owner, or someone's manager.

 

My favorite of these is Full Force, by far:

 

soulglo.jpg?w=300&h=187

 

They also appear in House Party:

 

house-party-3.jpg

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He even gets to show off his acting chops in the rooftop chin-up scene with Blair Underwood.

 

Speaking of which, I counted three professional actors in this movie: Blair Underwood, LisaGay Hamilton, and Richard Gant. If you want to count LL, that brings the number up to four. Everyone else is either an extra or a cameo by a musician, club owner, or someone's manager.

 

My favorite of these is Full Force, by far:

 

soulglo.jpg?w=300&h=187

 

They also appear in House Party:

 

house-party-3.jpg

 

I haven't watched House Party in ages. I wonder if it holds up...

 

I always liked Class Act, too.

 

class-act.jpg?quality=100&w=650

 

I'm still upset Kid lost the high top fade for the dreads.

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I thought Kurtis was treated pretty fairly. He's not in it much, but he's treated with reverence and gives The Fat Boys their break.

Then I apologize that my comment wasn't clear. I wasn't saying Kurtis was treated like Run was. Just that I didn't know much about Kurtis before seeing the movie and I don't know much after. Everyone else seemed to have some origins explained or shown. He just showed up "fully formed" as it were.

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Then I apologize that my comment wasn't clear. I wasn't saying Kurtis was treated like Run was. Just that I didn't know much about Kurtis before seeing the movie and I don't know much after. Everyone else seemed to have some origins explained or shown. He just showed up "fully formed" as it were.

In the timeline (?) of the movie, he had already peaked; his period of success was from 1979-1984 and he pretty much disappeared after that. I mean, he went from this:

 

 

To this (warning: very sad impersonation of PE/Bomb Squad below)

 

 

In ten years.

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I only had a passing familiarity with Mr. Blow before watching Krush Groove but I thought he comported himself with aplomb. He was charismatic, handsome, and his performances were great. He even had an emotional scene with a rippling, sweaty, and ripped Blair Underwood. He impressed me as an actor better than any of the musicians (except Sheila E., who had a completely different energy anyway) and seemed more comfortable performing his music on film than even Run DMC, and especially Fat Boyz. Maybe because, as the clip above suggests, he had been performing on camera since at least 1980?

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