Amoeblog

The 25 Best Hip-Hop Movies

Posted by Billyjam, July 24, 2014 06:15pm | Post a Comment

Best Hip Hop films

The definition of "hip hop movies" is pretty darn wide as it covers a broad range of types and styles of films - not to mention differing levels of quality since, let's face it, some have been downright low-budget jenky (bad meaning bad). The hip hop movie genre as a whole encompasses such varieties as concerts films (EG 1995's The Show or 2005's Dave Chappelle's Block Party); documentaries about specific parts of the genre or individual artists (e.g. Scratch or Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme or Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest); bio-pics like Notorious or the semi-biographical Eminem acting vehicle 8-Mile; and straight up pure celebratory flicks that show love for some or all of hip hop's four elements (EG Wild Style, Juice, Beat Street, and Breakin').

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SUBWAY ART PHOTOGRAPER HENRY CHALFANT INTERVIEW

Posted by Billyjam, July 11, 2009 04:45pm | Post a Comment
Subway Art
Subway Art
-- the legendary graffiti art book by Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper -- has just recently been republished in a nice big coffee table hard cover version appropriately titled Subway Art: 25th Anniversary Edition. The book has never been out of print since its initial 1984 publication but this new anniversary edition is just jaw-droppingly amazing and a must-have for any graffiti fan.

Its much larger scale and new dimensions of 17" by 13" full-color spreads allow the crispy clear photos to fully come to life in their bright, beautiful colors and hence make them so much easier to fully appreciate.

The new edition of Subway Art also offers numerous never-before-seen photos from that late 70's / early 80's era of New York City when Cooper and Chalfant were documenting this vibrant and rampant illegal public transit art form; one that would be gone by the end of the decade in which the book was first published. But over the years Subway Art has taken on life of its own and the influential book has gone on to sell a staggering half a million copies.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Henry Chalfant about this influential art book. A Stanford graduate who was first a sculptor, Chalfant has lived in New York City for many years and is now nearing 70. He is equally known in graffiti circles for his documentation of the art form via the book Spraycan Art which he co-authored with James Prigoff, and for Style Wars, the historic PBS documentary on New York graffiti that he co-produced with Tony Silver. Chalfant's work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A few years ago he directed the excellent Latin and hip-hop themed documentary about the South Bronx, From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale, that aired on PBS stations in 2006.

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AMOEBLOG'S SUMMER GRAFFITI SERIES: PART I, INTRO

Posted by Billyjam, July 4, 2009 11:58am | Post a Comment
DREAM R.I.P.

This is the kick-off post in a seven-week summer series of Graffiti Amoeblogs, focusing on the art of graffiti and running every Saturday from now, July 4th, until Saturday, August 15th, 2009 -- the date that will mark what would have been the 40th birthday of Mike DREAM Francisco, the legendary Bay Area graffiti artist who was tragically murdered nine years ago on the streets of Oakland. Rest in peace, DREAM. Your legacy will live forever.

Included in the numerous blogs in this series will be an interview with DEMER of the longtime NYC Wallnuts crew, who decades later is still making graffiti art, and who currently runs the store Graffiti Comix in Belleville, New Jersey, where he combines his two life-long passions/hobbies -- graffiti and comic books. There will also be an interview with OB, who runs the graffiti supply (and record) store All City in Dublin, Ireland. That same Graffiti Amoeblomiami graffitig will also take a look at the Irish graffiti scene.

James & Karla Murray, the hard working and prolific graffiti photo-journalists (Broken Windows, Burning New York, Store Front, Miami Graffiti), will also be interviewed here and high-quality images of their best New York City and Miami graffiti shots will also be included. Future Amoeblogs will also focus on Cali graffiti and its makers, and of course there will be a whole blog dedicated to DREAM, who was an amazing artist. 

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TONY SILVER, DIRECTOR OF GRAFFITI FILM STYLE WARS, PASSES

Posted by Billyjam, February 10, 2008 10:45am | Post a Comment

In the past week hip-hop lost one of its greatest historians when Tony Silver, the director of landmark 1983 graffiti hip-hop film Style Wars, died after losing to his ongoing battle with brain cancer. New York native Silver, who made the legendary documentary with producer Henry Chalfant, lived in LA and  is survived by his wife and two daughters and grandchild.

Beside Style Wars, Silver had a fat portfolio that included award-winning work in theatrical and TV trailers, main titles and special effects. As a documentary director his credits include such films as Anita Ellis For the Record, 30 Seconds At A Time (about company response to employees who are victims of domestic violence), and Arisman Facing the Audience (about illustrator Marshall Arisman). Additionally Silver lectured at universities around the US and served on panels at the NEA, the NEH, and at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But it is for Style Wars that Tony Silver will always be best remembered.

The film, which just about any true die-hard graffiti artist can quote verbatim, remains not just a classic among hip-hop/graffiti fans but is also recognized by educators and critics the world over as the most important film to capture the original spirit and vitality of hip-hop's element of graffiti which emerged from from the gritty streets and subways of New York City and later (thanks in great part to this film) blossomed into global consciousness and appreciation. Style Wars, which originally aired on PBS, won the Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival upon its original release.

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