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Fresh: An Overlooked Classic Hip-Hop Movie

Written by PlayBack

By Evette D. Champion

If you are attending the 2015 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, you will be treated to a special viewing of the 1994 movie, Fresh, which is made possible by The Dummy Clap Film Festival. When compared to other hip-hop-centric movies that were released around the same time (Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, and Juice), Fresh never got the attention it deserved.

The movie is not a one-dimensional flick. It is a coming of age story, mingled with revenge and dabbles with how to survive the dangerous aspects of the hood. If you look at the cast of stars, you would be surprised to see that some big names that we know of today, played a hand in making Fresh the remarkable movie it truly is. Names like Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Juice, A Time to Kill, Iron Man), Giancarlo Esposito (Malcom X, Twilight circa 1998, Breaking Bad as Gus Fring), and N’Bushe Wright (Dead Presidents and Blade).

For as talented as the stars were in the film, 12 year old actor, Sean Nelson, made the movie his own. As his debut role, he was the stand out character. His character, Fresh, came to age while he played chess in the park against his mostly absent father. He was the person who played hustlers and drug dealers like a pawn on the board. Although the movie did not have much action, there was plenty of psychological twists and turns that made his quiet intricacies stand out.

Even though the movie did not receive as much hype as the other movies like it, it received positive ratings— 89% approval on Rotten Tomatoes from critics. Janet Maslin from the New York Times complimented the cinematography and thoughtful. Roger Ebert gave the movie 4 out of 5 stars, saying was “filled with drama and excitement.”

Wes Jackson, the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival believes the movie gives context and a layer of depth to the culture, and it carries the message of hip-hop on a global level.

After the viewing of Fresh, there will be a panel discussion with the people behind the internet video phenomena known as Money & Violence. The web series has been likened to The Wire for Brooklyn. In an article written for AmbrosiaForHeads.com, Jackson said, “Film and music also share an entrepreneurial spirit.”

“Making a film or in the case of Money & Violence a web series, is the ultimate hustle. The brothers from Cloud 9 TV [Producers of Money & Violence] are writing the new roadmap for Hip-Hop TV and Film producers in the digital age. I feel like we are comrades in this struggle.”

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