Tokyo Cigar Thoughts: BELLY
Hood classic. That movie that represented the hood so thoroughly it is revered by ghetto dwellers world wide for showing outsiders ( which I myself was until I moved to Springhill Lake and started seeing firsthand what the hood was about ) the daily operation like Guru and Primo. Hood classics tend to only vary in terms of location. Weather it’s Uptown New York’s gritty sidewalks underscoring “Juice” or the Brazilian trenches that framed the blood soaked saga of “City Of God” the background adds it own element to the story but regardless of slang or fashion senses the drama had it’s own undertones that were indiscriminate of area. To quote Rakim “It aint where your from it’s where your at” Weather your particularly “at” is Far Rockaway Queens or Kingston Jamaica certain things remain the same. Slugs burn, drugs are married to problems and shit is REAL.
This movie centered around the character Tommy “Buns” Bundy ( No relation to Al ) from Queens New York ( played by the kid DMX ) and gave a glimpse into his day to day life. Nas also starred in the movie as Sincere, Tommy’s right hand man, but DMX was the undisputed star of the flick. He came off as the cat he rhymed about on record but with more money. Shit, dude had the JUMPOFF crib for sure. Stacks in stacks but still that grimy project cat that would yoke anybody up over a wayward glance. The ultimate charismatic villain. The plot revolves around an outta town trip to sling dope fronted to them by the Jamaican Kinpin Lennox ( THIS DUDE IS CRAZY!!!! ) They get snitched on by envious local dealers and a police raid stops the music like a drunk cat bumping the DJ’s turntable at a packed house party. The movie is overall a commentary on the glamorization of crime in Black communities. DMX represented the devil in the equation. Overly ambitious and ruthless to perfection. Nas represented the tortured soul. Drawn to the lifestyle he and Tommy have but realizing the fact success in that life still represents a universal loss. Things kind of loosen up structure wise towards the end but the message is still subliminally sprinkled throughout the movie. Like the part where Tommy has an argument with Knowledge ( Played by Power from Wu tang’s camp. Speaking of Wu, Method Man plays a ghetto assassin in the flick too. SUUUUUUUUU ) one of the characters asks “What happened to Knowledge?” and Tommy responds “Fuck Knowledge. Roll up. I wanna get high” Very slick move Hype. I like that.
Hype Williams has a right to be considered the best music video director of all time. Seriously. Dude is a monster with his. He created marvelous epics for most of the certified superstars in Hip hop and RnB. Stuff like “Put your hands where my eyes can see”, “The rain” and “Can it be all so simple” redefined videos forever. The cinematography was beyond belief and his videos played like mini movies. Hollywood was the next logical step for him. His work on this movie is fucking amazing. The club scene with the black light, the parts in Jamaica, hell, every frame of this movie is beautifully shot. It’s one of those types of films that was hard to look away from even for a second because you didn’t want to miss that next fly image that was guaranteed to pop up. Even the image of the snitch ( Played by dude that played Cain in Menace 2 Society ) popping up for the first time rocking a VERY yellow track suit, hair permed, eating a banana just stuck out because of how it looked. ( me, Stix and Troub used to say his line from that scene “I don’t like that shit. Don’t like that shit one bit” at random times for weeks after we saw it, straight laughing our ass off every time ) I’m not a film student I’m just a cat that knows what I like and believe me I like the way this movie was directed. This flick is the embodiment of the term visually stunning. Hype combined all his tricks for this and stepped it up even further. It’s like when Dre made the Chronic. It had elements of his style from NWA but he redefined and perfected it on that album.
Hood classics may not win Oscars but the effect that they have are just as strong for those that relate to them. My boy called me up today and told me a crazy thing that happened to him and he said that he felt like DMX in Belly. Which caused both of us to laugh because the flick still gets brought up in casual conversations on the regular. And that, boys and girls, is a TRUE HOOD CLASSIC.