When it comes to movies and documentaries I think of “The Show”, “Belly”, and “Shottas”. Even the Game’s “Belly 2″ which resembles melena more than cinema graces my Acer’s hardrive. So when coming upon a review of Ava DuVernay’s documentary “This is the life”, I was rather disinterested, obviously. Duvernay’s film delves into the lives of 50 young and rather unknown African-American artists who, in the 1990s, resisted peer pressure from the thuggery and G-Rap. In what appeared to be a void of artistic integrity, these Los Angeles artists sought and refined an alternative music movement.
The alternative movement in question was christened “The Good Life” because it originated out of a health food center in South Central called The Good Life Cafe. At this health food center a hip hop workshop type atmosphere was molded by B. Hall, owner of The Good Life Cafe. Good Life epitomized the lore of true hip hop, and no where was that more evident then on Thursday nights at Good Life. Aspiring MC’s braved the stage to perform one song in an effort to demonstrate their skills to the cafe audience. Not to be confused with a fluffy hip hop workshop that you may find at your local Learning Annex, at Good Life progress was everything, and development came with pressure. One example of the creative nature of up and coming artists was tested during Thursday performances when MC’s performed written songs, or free styled. However, if a performance was not up to par, the audience would begin a chant of “Please pass the mic!” and the rapper was forced to end the performance by passing the microphone to the next artist. Now that’s Gangsta! Figuratively of course.
I appreciate stories like this because history is everything. Without precedence we cannot build on this scene that many of us have come to devote a good portion of our lives to. Speaking of devoting time, all the L.A. zebra out there should go catch the flick @ the Downtown Independent on Main Street.
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Playing: At the Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles, (213) 617-1033
Peep and/or purchase the soundtrack (below)
This is the Life Soundtrack
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