Culture Connection: Damien “Dame” Ritter

Listen in as Brother Malcolm chats with Damien “Dame” Ritter, visionary co-founder of hip hop music label Funk Volume. Click here to find out more information about Funk Volume and their artists! Check out the trailer for the upcoming Funk Volume documentary, Independent Living!

For comments or questions about this or any episode, call the hotline at (323) 455-4219. You can also follow Malcolm on Twitter and Instagram @caliyalie. Don’t forget #cultureconnection!

Jay’s Joints: Undefeated

Undefeated has even more small-town charm, heart and grit than Friday Night Lights. It is the story of one of the worst teams in the city possibly even the state overcoming insurmountable odds. It is Samson and Goliath-esque in scope. It bubbles with tension, drama, gut-wrenching storylines and deftly raises large, looming questions about the state of the poor and working class in America, the cycle of poverty and the failures of our education system.

Undefeated will never have a blockbuster weekend and if this film ever grosses more than one million dollars that would be nothing shy of a miracle. Miraculous because unlike Friday Night Lights, Undefeated is not a drama, it’s a documentary. An Oscar award-winning documentary but still a documentary, which too often are ignored.

At its core, Undefeated is a tale about facing adversity head-on, battling your demons and persevering but it is also the story of a generation of black men who have no fathers, are raised by their grandparents, living just above the poverty line and have very few prospects in life. It is a film that shows how much one man can accomplish and possibly even change the course of these young boys lives because he cares and believes in them.

The traditional concerns about the narrator and point of view are still there. After all, this story about poor, troubled black kids is told through the lens of their white coach and the white directors of this film. We are decades away from race not being an issue in America but what becomes clear in the film is that the love and dedication of their coach is genuine and transcends race and the filmmakers try their best to paint a brutal and very real picture of their subjects in the film.

By giving some backstory and creating context the audience better understands the struggles our heroines have already overcome and race takes a backseat to the yearning that every human being feels.  No matter our color or our socio-economic status, each and every one of us wants to be seen for who we are, successful in achieving our goals and make meaningful connections with other people.

Undefeated will likely be made into a real Hollywood film eventually, one with big names attached and a budget to match and this watered down, blockbuster Hollywood version will undoubtedly make more money in one day than this documentary will gross in its lifetime, but do yourself a favor, see the original – no remake could ever hope to capture the raw emotion and intensity of it.

Directed By: TJ Martin and Bill Lindsay

Starring: Bill Courtney, OC Brown, Montrail ‘Money’ Brown and Chavis Daniels

Running Time: 113 minutes

Black Is: The Untold Mormon Story

Racial issues have long been a source of controversy within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are at the core of a new documentary, Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. The film treads on fraught territory, exploring the faith’s attitude toward African-Americans from its beginning in 1830 up to today, featuring interviews with Mormon scholars, civil-rights leaders, and clergy. America’s ‘Mormon moment’ has exposed an uncomfortable side of the church: its spotty record of accepting African-Americans, according to a new film. Lizzie Crocker talks to the people behind a bracing new documentary that tries to set the record straight.

Watch the trailer for the documentary here.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast

Microphone Check

This past weekend Arclight Theatres showcased the long awaited documentary, “Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest” to a throng of hip hop fans, myself included. Most of us sat in silence, mouths open as we soaked in the 95-minute film that gave the background of and made an attempt to explain the division amongst the legendary hip hop group. We also got a bang for our buck when it was announced that ATCQ member,  Phife Dawg and the film’s director, Michael Rapaport were there for a Q&A afterwards.

For a true Tribe fan the documentary does not disappoint. Learning how the group formed, chose their name, why Jarobi is the ghost member, the inspiration behind some of their greatest hits, and who the key players were in their success was more than any hip hop head could ask for. Further, we heard all of it from the members themselves and the nation of musicians that surrounded them during their hey day. We also got a perspective of why the group dissolved in the first place, and the amount of bitterness that exists between members of the group who have known each other their entire lives, pointedly Q-Tip the Abstract and Phife Dawg.

However, my ears perked up during the Q&A with Phife and Rapaport when one audience member went on a 4-minute diatribe about a recent article in the LA Weekly. I couldn’t make out his argument exactly thanks to all the audience boos and jeers, but it was clear Mr. Rapaport had no desire to touch on the topic then and there. He told us all, “Read LA Weekly. It’s in there.”

So I did. It turns out there was a reason only Phife Dawg was in attendance to the documentary that night, and for the most part has been the only member of the group in constant support of it. According to the story, a producer on the film accidentally sent an email with Q-Tip copied on it expressing a desire to keep the entire group out of receiving production credits for the film. Rapaport himself admits that the group is not legally entitled to any producer credits, though he has verbally agreed to give them a percentage. Additionally, the slant of the film, and decisions made about the music selection for the film were not agreed upon by the group. As such, Q-Tip, Jarobi, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad have not been in full support of the documentary’s release, speaking out about it on MTV (see clips below). However, they support fans seeing the documentary because of the music history lesson it presents.

The Arclight was packed on Friday night for its first showing and with a crowd lined up outside for the next showing. Between its limited screenings and DVD sales, the documentary stands to make a killing and I wonder how much of its proceeds the group will actually see. Nonetheless, this is a MUST-SEE for all real music heads. Rapaport’s redemption here is that he put together a quality documentary on hip-hop and encapsulated a bit of Black music history in a way Black folks can be proud of. Ironic that he’s the one to do it – but what else is new?



Get More: MTV Shows


Get More: MTV Shows


Get More: MTV Shows


Get More: MTV Shows


Get More: MTV Shows


Get More: MTV Shows


Get More: MTV Shows

LA EVENTS: Beats Rhymes & Life Doc in LA!!!!

The eagerly anticipated documentary Beats Rhymes & Life : The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest will be showing this weekend at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. The documentary, directed by Michael Rapaport, i about one of the most influential and groundbreaking musical groups in hip-hop history. Having released five gold and platinum selling albums within eight years, A Tribe Called Quest has been one of the most commercially successful and artistically significant musical groups in recent history, and regarded as iconic pioneers of hip hop. The band’s sudden break-up in 1998 shocked the industry and saddened the scores of fans, whose appetite for the group’s innovative musical stylings never seems to diminish. A hard-core fan himself, Rapaport sets out on tour with A Tribe Called Quest in 2008, when they reunited to perform sold-out concerts across the country, almost ten years after the release of their last album, The Love Movement. As he travels with the band members (Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White), Rapaport captures the story of how tenuous their relationship has become; how their personal differences and unresolved conflicts continue to be a threat to their creative cohesion. When mounting tensions erupt backstage during a show in San Francisco, we get a behind-the-scenes look at their journey and contributions as a band and what currently is at stake for these long-time friends and collaborators. Check out the trailer here and get a glimpse into the journey of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop.





My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women and Hip Hop

I increased BET’s viewership about 10% the other night when I watched their documentary, My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women and Hip Hop. Though excellent programming for BET, part of it was cut and paste from VH1’s Rock Docs on Hip Hop, but what can you expect when they are all owned by the same company?

But I digress.

BET’s trip through the female hip hop MC timeline was enjoyable, and they pulled some female MC’s out the woodwork for this one: Nikki D, Rah Digga, Ladybug Mecca, The Lady of Rage, and my personal favorite, Los Angeles underground godmother, Medusa (Other MC’s might make your head bob/but I’m gon make your neck lock – yeah she said that).

The most informative part of this documentary was the shift of the female role in hip-hop from the 90’s to the new millennium. It was made clear that when Lauryn Hill dropped her solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998 and then dropped of the face of hip hop Earth, the game for women has not been the same. Lauryn’s album was such a game changer that unless you were as solid of a triple threat as her, you weren’t going to make much noise. Since the new millennium, the primary face of females in hip-hop is the hypersexualized female MC. Actual talent on the mic won’t trump one’s sex appeal.

Which brings me to the one female MC who I believe has changed the game but is constantly glossed over in this sex-obsessed society we live in and that’s Bahamadia. The Philly native’s name was mentioned only once towards the end of the show, but this sister’s dedication to her art form in spite of being ignored by mainstream hip hop was reason enough for her to have her own segment in the show. Her talent and skill on the mic is without question, and if you’ve been fortunate enough to catch her live performance you know Bahamadia is anything but a studio MC. She is better recognized and respected internationally than stateside, yet let her step in the ring with any of today’s current female MC’s and battle – most chicks won’t have the heart to try.

So here is my personal tribute to Bahamadia – and if you happen to catch this sis, know the real heads recognize. A few of my favorites from her catalog of classics:


I Confess

3 The Hard Way


Finally, I would be remiss if failed to throw out an honorable mention to Boss, the first female gangsta rapper. Her persona was too hard and too much for most folks to handle.