Words By Khalid Strickland
Like beautiful sunsets, marijuana and Salma Hayek’s bodacious rack, the internet is one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind.
Through the divine power of video-sharing sites like YouTube, people who’d otherwise be nobodies can now become global superstars. Some of these homemade video clips are really arty and entertaining; some are wastes of cyberspace. But once our friendly neighborhood thugs got wind of this technology, a new cinematic genre was born… I call it – “Ig’nant Video.”
This genre isn’t really new; niggas have been flashing their burners on-camera and snitching on themselves since the first Smack DVD. But now, with online sharing, directors from any hood can screen their masterpieces for the world to view. Bill Cosby and Oprah may cringe when they see these works of art, but as a devoted movie-buff I’ve enjoyed some of these short films. So grab your popcorn, everyone, and savor the crème de le crème of Ig’nant Videos.
This recently released gem is the Citizen Kane of ig’nant cinema. It’s an innovative milestone that aspiring self-snitches will study for years to come. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry. The main protagonist, Jay Stones, claims to be Yung Berg’s darker twin-brother and vows a blood-feud with Berg’s enemies (mainly Detroit gangster Trick Trick and Miami rapper Briscoe). In the process, Mr. Stones delivers his soliloquy with conviction (“I just touched down!”), recites his MySpace address and in a stroke of cinematic genius, busts his gun in the air on-camera (and looks a little shook while doing it).
Though Stones gives a masterful performance, he is supported by a strong, albeit drunken, ensemble cast. Personally, my fave is the dude who looks like an old-ass Drew Gooden from the Chicago Bulls, ranting about out-of-town rappers doing shows in the Windy City. The editing is superb, complete with titles (“Repercussion,” “We Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”) and a score lifted from the film Scarface. I just hope that before this gang collides with Trick Trick, they realize that it’s hard to win a war when your army’s passing around one gun.
This period piece by Jay-Z’s ex-friend Dehaven is enjoyable even by today’s standards. The premise: Dehaven returns home after a lengthy prison bid to find out that his old partner-in-crime, Jay-Z, is now a mutli-millionaire and world icon. Dehaven, a.k.a. Headache, is livid that Jay no longer acknowledges him and leads filmgoers on a thrilling, take-no-prisoners hatefest. No one is spared. With furious anger, Dehaven verbally goes in on Dame Dash, Jay’s cousin Ty Ty and even Hov’s mother and sister (Memphis Bleek wasn’t mentioned at all, as usual). Toeing the borderline of snitchin’, Headache promises that he’ll let us know “who was gettin’ that bread and how we was gettin’ it.” He never crossed that line, though; in fact, his touted Jay-Z Exposed DVD and book never dropped. But this video spawned two critically acclaimed sequels; a solid trilogy in the vein of Star Wars, The Matrix and Lord of the Rings.
Usually, ig’nant videos set Black people back as a race. In this tour de force, however, the only Black person set back is the guy who made it: Killa Cam. With Dipset splintering, 50 Cent taunting him and rumors of being snuffed by Tru Life circulating, Cam’rom went into self-exile. Weeks later, he resurfaced with this goldmine of comedy.
Standing by the swimming pool of what looked like a Holiday Inn on I-95 (he said it was his vacation home) and wearing a wifebeater with some extra-young boxer shorts, Cam’ron warned viewers that “it’s gonna be a hot summer… for everybody.” After a side-splitting monologue that included denials of being two-pieced and calling Curtis a “dickhead,” Cam instructed the cameraman to pan over and “get my pool in the back.” Unfortunately for Cam (but fortunate for those of us in search of slapstick), the pool looked more like a puddle. 50 later boasted that his whirlpool was bigger.
When rappers attempt to do damage control after an embarrassing incident, the results can be hilarious (Cam’ron) or plain sad (Mike Jones). With this short cult-classic, Ras Kass manages to balance both like yin and yang. The ridiculous flick that proceeds this one, where Ras’s crew tosses a handful of loose bullets at the camera and threatens Game’s life, has since disappeared (if anyone has it, please send me a copy).
But this sparkling nugget remains. After getting clobbered in a nightclub by Game and his boys, Ras Kass claims he didn’t get K.O.’d. His evidence is irrefutable: Although he’s sporting a black eye, nobody stole his jewelry. Ras delivers his lines with such fervor, you momentarily forget that a person doesn’t necessarily have to be robbed to get beat down. Like love and sex, they’re two things that may overlap, but have nothing to do with each other. Ras also distracts viewers from the fact that if his chain were any thinner, he could floss his teeth with it. But I applaud him, because that’s what acting is all about.
It’s rare, but sometimes sequels eclipse their classic predecessors. Empire Strikes Back, Road Warrior and Spider Man 2 are some examples. Now, we can add the second installment of the Dehaven franchise to that exalted list. Headache ratchets up the hate level to epic proportions, even referencing the mythic Roc-A-Fella vs. Terror Squad brawl.
“Yo, Dame… When them niggas hit you in the head with that bottle, who you ran out the club and got?” asks Dehaven, dropping a cinematic bombshell akin to Darth Vader’s “Luke, I am your father.”
When Dehaven visits Marcy Projects, he and Jay’s old stomping grounds, the scene is stolen by some dude hanging outside; a nameless living legend that Dehaven refers to as “One of the first niggas who was gettin’ bread in these projects.” I guess that’s why he’s still standing out there decades later, while a caked-up Jay-Z is on a private island somewhere giving Beyonce the bizness. Anyway, this anonymous ghetto thespian (a shoe-in for the “Best Supporting Hater” award) not only buries Jay in an avalanche of envy, he also manages to say “y’know what I mean” seven times within a 12-second span. Bravo!
Previously Posted — A Nominee For “SMH 2008…”