|Dumbfoundead in Bad Rap|
This is the 12th of 14 or 15 all-new blog posts that are being posted on a monthly basis until this blog's final post in December 2017.
Back in 2011, I typed out an outline for a graphic novel or screenplay I wanted to someday write about the Minneapolis rock music scene in 1985, and the story was to be told from the point of view of a female Filipino American Prince fan who leads a band of otherwise all-male musicians called the Beautifully Complex Women. In the outline, I explained that a rumor spreads around Minneapolis that Prince, the city's favorite son, is looking for a new act to sign to his Paisley Park label, and the Beautifully Complex Women and a whole bunch of other local bands vie, often over-aggressively, for the attention of the unseen Purple One.
I called the script idea The Beautifully Complex Women. It was going to be my way of exploring why it's so difficult for Asian American artists--whether they're the power pop band Moonpools & Caterpillars in the '90s or the Philly rap group Mountain Brothers in the early 2000s--to find mainstream success in the recording industry:
Bad Rap, African American filmmaker Salima Koroma's 2016 documentary about the various hardships Asian American rappers have to deal with in the industry, covers all those above questions and more in a lean, efficient and enjoyably provocative manner that makes me say, "Wow, I think I'll let this 1985 Minneapolis battle-of-the-bands script idea remain a script idea." Her film turned out to be better than my script idea.
Koroma's documentary was the 2016 film I most eagerly wanted to watch last year, even more so than a tentpole blockbuster like Captain America: Civil War or a critics' darling like Moonlight. (Sorry, Barry Jenkins.) Now Bad Rap is streamable on Netflix after a run on the festival circuit, and, man, the doc was worth the wait.
|Bad Rap producer Jaeki Cho and director Salima Koroma|
Bad Rap, which was crowdfunded on Indiegogo, took Koroma and Korean American producer Jaeki Cho--the (now-former) manager of one of the film's four main subjects--three and a half years to make. The doc follows four Asian American spitters who either have often toured together or have done guest features on each other's tracks.
The amiable and quick-witted Jonathan Park, who's now in his thirties, was an L.A. skater kid who, as a teen, stumbled into the battle rap scene--the Detroit version of the battle rap scene was famously depicted in 8 Mile--and fell in love with the art form, or as I like to call battle rap, "Don Rickles insult humor by people who, unlike Rickles, have rhythm." Park, a.k.a. Dumbfoundead, is a hero in L.A.'s Koreatown (judging from his music videos and YouTube shorts, he is to K-town what De Niro is to New York: the unofficial mayor) and in battle rap circles, but he's unknown elsewhere. Bad Rap reveals--and I wasn't previously aware of this--that Drake is a fan of Dumbfoundead's battle raps, which makes me like Drake even more than I already do.