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Brown Sugar: DVD Review
By Clayton Ruley

This is a must have love story for all hip-hop heads.


You will say that statement five minutes into the movie.


When you see Kool G. Rap, Big Daddy Kane, The Roots, De La Soul, Pete Rock among others speak on when they first fell in love with hip hop, you'll get chills thinking about how far we have come and yet how far we still have to go to get its total effect.

The Movie Brown Sugar is now on the DVD and along with the critically acclaimed movie comes special features including deleted scenes, commentary by the film's Director Rick Famuyima and Film Editor Dirk Westervelt, and two music videos from the movie, ":Love of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop)", by Erykah Badu Featuring Common and the title track by Mos Def featuring Faith Evans.


The movie uses the Hip-Hop as a metaphor for the relationship of two friends in opposite sides of the music business.   In an scenario unique to our generation (the generation that spawned the birth of hip hop), the birth and growth of hip hop is paralleled with Sydney and Dre two friends who experienced the art for the first time together and fell in love with it.  

Sydney, played by Sanaa Lathan ( Love and Basketball ) is a successful writer with the LA Times who comes home to New York City to take a job at XXL as editor and chief.   It is there she is reunited with friends including her best friend Dre, played by Taye Diggs ( How Stella Got Her Groove Back ) who's is a successful record executive who feels unmotivated and disappointed with the state of hip hop and his part in it.   When Dre quickly decides to get married to Reese played by Nicole Ari Parker (Showtime's Soul Food ) it starts a flowing of events that will change the course of both main characters lives.


The movie uses a stellar cast of hip hop artists in the background and foreground including rappers/ actors Mos Def ( Def Poetry Jam ) and Queen Latifah ( Chicago ) to bring an authenticity to the film but even more to relay the unequivocal presence of Hip Hop in these people lives and how not just the music but the culture has shaped the preferences and focus of the characters.


Mos Def in particular was excellent playing Chris, a taxi driver/underground mc who Dre begins the movie trying to sign for Millennium records, his place of employment.     Chris is skeptical of Dre's intentions and gives him a hard time in his pursuit of the "real" music and in life. Chris is not willing to sell out his art for the immediate fame and although he's stuck with a cab job he doesn't let the chase determine who he is, what he wants for an opportunity or what he believes in.   Mos doesn't look like the rapper playing the rapper although his expertise is a great addition to the story as he brings original music to the movie as well as the soundtrack, including cuts with Faith Evans and Talib Kweli, reuniting the super duo Black Star.   Mos is a young brother with lots of potential to act for years to come.            


Queen Latifah plays Sydney's cousin, Francine, a voice of reason to Sydney.   Francine delves into what Sydney wants and makes Sydney put her feelings and intentions on the table for even her to see.   Francine also plays hardball with a timid Chris, making him come out his shell to get some play.   Quickly become a regular in Hollywood, Latifah's presence is like that of your favorite friend or family member quick to put you in place, always ready to fight for you, always trying to pick you up when your in an uncompromising position.   Latifah character feels warm and like home, a cup of cocoa in a winter day, sweet no matter the time of day.      


The Hip Hop is the constant in movie and the situational music takes you back when Hip Hop was    more than a gimmick hook or a video hoe session, it was a outlet of original beats and original stories.  


The plot is original and the actors comprise a who's who in young black actors/actresses.   With writing that displays cultured, successful and educated black people the film isn't a ghetto tale reserved for just us black folk specifically but one that everyone can dig and learn from.   A love story/ history lesson for the next generation!    


I'll give it 4 Globes.

Suggestions, comments, questions feel free to drop me a line at One!






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