Red Bull Music Academy & ego trip present Filmmatic An Evening of Rare Hip Hop Documentaries

The revolution called hip hop has been well televised. But even 40 years after it all started out in the Bronx, there are still some well-hidden treasures amongst the myriads of documentaries chronicling what is now the world’s most influential youth culture. This is why we’ve teamed up with infamous hip hop archeologists-slash-anarchists ego trip and filmmaker and co-curator Andreas Vingaard to screen three rather rare films from the ’80s and early ’90s: “Beat This” by Dick Fontaine (1984), “Big Fun In The Big Town” by Dutch director Bram van Splunteren (1986), and Diane Martel’s street dance documentary “Reckin’ Shop: Live from Brooklyn” (1992). The screenings will be followed by a conversation with all three directors and some of the films’ protagonists, including Afrika Bambaataa, Schoolly D, and “freestyle hip hop” dance legend Buddha Stretch. Chairman Mao of ego trip will host.

Photo Gallery

Afrika Bambaataa

The debate over the birthplace of hip hop should have never happened in the first place, as the original Zulu King and godfather of hip hop was and always will be from “the South Bronx, the South-South Bronx”. One of the early champions of breakbeat DJing, Bambaataa was instrumental in the birth of electro-funk and the Universal Zulu Nation, a global network promoting creativity over gang violence that is still active to this day. Ruling the ’80s with two seminal MCs and DJ crews (Jazzy 5 and Soulsonic Force), Bambaataa laced tracks like “Jazzy Sensation,” “Renegades Of Funk,” the über-classic ”Planet Rock,” or “UNITY” (with James Brown). And on top of looking for the perfect beat for 30 years and counting, Bambaataa currently holds a three-year appointment as a visiting scholar at Cornell University. Each one teach one… and you don’t stop.

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Schoolly D

It’s a little-known fact that gangsta rap, that most west coast of hip hop styles, was actually born in Philadelphia. NWA and Ice T made the headlines (and the money), but Schoolly D broke the ground with tracks like “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” Schoolly—Jesse Weaver to his mom—emerged in the mid-‘80s in Philly with DJ and producer Code Money, and a rap style that immediately raised the bar (or lowered the tone, depending on your viewpoint). Sexually explicit, not to mention sexist, violent, drugged up, hard as hell, and with drums like thunder, this was a hip hop that wasn’t about to jam with Aerosmith or be invited onto MTV. Although he fell out of fashion when hip hop turned afrocentric—his album Am I Black Enough For You? was a failed attempt to reclaim lost ground—his pivotal role has been acknowledged by the likes of Ice T. He’s retained a cult following and still tours, most recently with Public Enemy on the Hip Hop Gods bill in 2012.

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Buddha Stretch

“Eric B. for President”—that is how far back the story of hip hop dance guru Buddha Stretch kicks in. The first music video that Stretch managed to land as a dancer turned out to become a classic. His choreography is perhaps just as memorable, having accumulated credits with Rosie Perez, Will Smith, and Michael Jackson. In 1989, Stretch was among the first hip hop dancers to teach the style in a mainstream studio, New York’s Broadway Dance Center (where he still teaches today). Bridging the gap between the ol’ skool and the new skool, the 44-year old has been a pioneering force in his field since the very beginning, and continues to be to this day.

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Dick Fontaine

Dick Fontaine is a filmmaker and teacher who has made over 40 films for television and theatrical release. Fontaine’s journalistic background and early experience with cinema vérité are at the core of his vibrant storytelling. He has long used his films to investigate and bring to light below-the-radar stories about the American civil rights movement, the motivations and inspirations of key jazz artists, and the evolution of African American popular music. In 1984 he produced Beat This: A Hip-Hop History for the BBC. With a cast that included Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc, and the Cold Crush Brothers, it stands as one of the first films ever made about the emerging genre. Today, Fontaine is the head of documentary direction at the National Film and Television School in the UK.

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Diane Martel

Diane Martel is a music-video director known largely for her work with hip hop artists. Her first video was in 1992, for Onyx’s “Throw Ya Gunz,” a clip chosen by Method Man and Redman as their favorite of all time. In that same year Martel put together Reckin’ Shop: Live from Brooklyn, a documentary showcasing NYC street dancers, for PBS. Its unusual non-narrative format and distinctive black-and-white look helped make it one of the most memorable documents of the era. Martel has gone on to make videos for Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, and the White Stripes, and last year worked with longtime collaborator Alicia Keys on her “Brand New Me” video.

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Bram van Splunteren

Bram van Splunteren is the director of the celebrated cult hip hop documentary Big Fun in the Big Town. Called “the best hip hop movie you’ve never seen” by Wax Poetics, it’s a 40-minute look into the genre’s beginnings with appearances by LL Cool J, Biz Markie, and Doug E. Fresh, among many others. Van Splunteren has often focused on music throughout his film career. He produced the first documentary about Red Hot Chili Peppers, getting exclusive footage from their 1987 tour. He remains active as a filmmaker, producing both documentaries and dramas for VPRO, one of the Netherlands’ most radical broadcasters.

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Jeff Mao

Jeff ‘Chairman’ Mao pens regular columns for XXL and other reputable publications with the precision and insight of a true veteran. As well as co-authoring two books, he’s also produced the TV series The (White) Rapper Show and Miss Rap Supreme with his creative collective ego trip. Add in his skills as a deep-digging DJ, and Jeff has been at the epicenter of the underground hip hop scene in America since the early '90s.

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