In it’s relatively short lifespan, hip-hop has become one of the biggest musical movements in the world, influencing at least 3 generations of head nodding, rhyme spitting, baggy pant wearing youths from all social walks of life. As it continues to evolve and expand into the populist conscience of the world, it’s roots are both loved by plenty and ignored by an equal amount. But whatever angle you’re entering this culture, its diverse history rarely gets explored in popular culture, unlike some of the influential counterparts it was impregnated from, such as: jazz, funk and soul. Being a audible regurgitation of street culture, each section of this musical blend presents a unique flavour from each corner of the world it comes from. Australian hip-hop doesn’t sound like it was made in New York, German hip-hop doesn’t sound like it was from the mid-west and nothing sounds like it was put together on the heat covered neighbourhoods of Los Angeles. In the early 90’s, a number of young would be MC’s began hitting it big by releasing a number of genre defining albums, accumulating itself as G-Funk aka gangsta-funk. Known for its violent characters as much as it’s psychedelically infused baselines, G-Funk encapsulated a city and spread it across the world like a wildfire. Rarely explored, but always enjoyed, the seemingly short boom period has finally had a camera lens focused on it by first time director Karam Gill, producing this 90 minute documentary on this iconic era of, not just hip-hop, but LA culture as a whole. Featuring interviews from the likes of Warren G, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Ice-T, as they share this unique experience from influence, inception and it’s future, G-Funk is supported with archival footage and an unstoppable soundtrack to keep new and old fans glued to the screen at each turn. Not just a story of music, but one of an underground cultural uprising, Gill’s moulding of this story shares insight into the African-American experience from the 1980’s and Reaganomics to the aftermath that washed through, well into the 90’s. Connecting these dots with reenactments of a young Warren G riffling through his fathers Mary Jane infused record collection to 213 battling rhymes in school corridors, and you’ve got an easy ride through the genres sun blazed history. But as much as G-Funk is known for it’s discography, it’s blood thirsty history follows, a regretful chapter the documentary doesn’t ignore, as Suge Knight and Death Row Records refuse to seperate the gangsta image from reality, providing more harm than good to the already under appreciated culture. But as the story roles on, you find a number of shining lights in the somewhat turbulent ride, cementing the music and their artists as a true artform, full of colour expression, one still prominent in the landscape of hip-hop today.
Music is always a difficult topic to compile into 90 minutes, but G-Funk, with all of it’s characters, humour, presence and neck breaking soundtrack, put this story together into a much needed package. At a time where we are being presented with big budget NWA biopics and a musical reintroduction to the m.a.a.d city of Compton, a document like this is essential viewing for those interested in one of the greatest examples of the American dream.
- G-Funk is screening nationally, as part of the American Essentials Film Festival in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide alongside Palace Cinemas
- Check the link below for screenings in your city now