BEAT THIS!(Dick Fontaine, 1984)

Dir: Dick Fontaine, 1984.
54 min, UK.
Special thanks to Dick Fontaine

Screening with Bombin’


Britain’s Dick Fontaine, having previously made films on subjects ranging from Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman to James Baldwin and the Black Panthers’ George Jackson, was perhaps the first major documentarian to take a serious look at the burgeoning creativity of the hip-hop scene beginning literally amid the rubble of the South Bronx during DJ Kool Herc’s legendary block parties.

Colorfully narrated by legendary broadcaster Imhotep Gary Byrd, Beat This! traces the origins of hip hop from Herc’s parties a decade earlier through Afrika Bambaataa’s transformation from gang member to leader of the Universal Zulu Nation and beyond. Herc and Bambaataa are interviewed, and also appearing are The Cold Crush Brothers, Jazzy Jay and more. Even Malcolm McLaren shows up to share the story of his own personal discovery of hip hop and subsequent introduction of it to the UK.

Bombin’ focuses directly on the impact of hip hop and graffiti culture in the UK. Bronx graffiti artist Brim Fuentes is brought to the UK as sort of a cultural ambassador sharing the technique, philosophy and lifestyle of hip hop culture to people ranging from Oxford art history students to befuddled old ladies. Two prominently featured young men-on-the-street, behind whose eyes we can practically see the inspiration burning, went on to become Robert “3D” Del Naja of Massive Attack and artist and musician Goldie. Bombin’ is particularly insightful exploration of the exploitation and public perception of hip-hop at a time that might have naively been believed to be its commercial tipping point. It’s also a fascinating fish-out-of-water story, whether Brim is dealing with British promoters or being asked to recreate the look of the Bronx on a British soundstage by director Michael Winner, who gives him a personal tour of the set of Death Wish 3 despite Brim’s reservations the films are meant to vilify blacks and latinos.

Spectacle screens high quality digital copies unavailable commercially.


124 S. 3rd St. @ Bedford | |



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