`Death' fails to bring hip-hop culture to life


April 29, 2005|By Rashod D. Ollison | Rashod D. Ollison,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

Over the years, hip-hop culture, a multibillion-dollar monster these days, has given us revolutionary, ground-splitting music.

Its movies, on the other hand, have never been that great. (Remember Run-DMC's Tougher Than Leather from 1988? Didn't think so.)

The latest hip-hop flick to hit theaters, albeit in limited release, is the Damon Dash-directed Death of a Dynasty, a mostly humorless satirical look behind Roc-a-Fella Records, the empire Dash built with iconic rap star Jay-Z.

The movie disjointedly follows Dave Katz (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), a naive, wannabe-fly white guy who writes for a rap magazine much like The Source.

He's assigned to chronicle the underworld of hip-hop music as it exists within the walls of the Roc-a-Fella "dynasty."

However, the Wonder bread "homeboy" gets caught up "two-timing" the magazine by feeding gossip about Dash and Jay-Z to a columnist at another publication. Katz thinks he's getting the best of everybody only to realize in the end that he's the fool.

The movie is chock-full of inside jokes that only die-hard hip-hop heads would find funny. The "acting" is largely done by unknowns or C-list actors.

A few pop personalities - Carson Daly, Ed Lover and Village Voice columnist Michael Musto - make cameos.

According to press releases, Death of a Dynasty was done "in the spirit of This Is Spinal Tap," the 1984 "mockumentary" about an aging British rock band.

The makers of that cult classic should be insulted.

This Is Spinal Tap was brilliantly funny. Death of a Dynasty? Well, the movie is just dead.

Death of a Dynasty

Starring Ebon Moss-Bachrach

Directed by Damon Dash

Released by TLA

Rated R (pervasive language, drug and sexual content)

Time 93 minutes

Sun Score *(1 star)

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