New York, 1986: a city of big dreams and equally big problems. Like New York itself, hip-hop music encompassed both of these human conditions. But hip-hop and its cultural birthplace shared other important characteristics, too: the desire to always be original, a hustle-to-survive ambition, and – if the stars aligned – the ability to come out on top, no matter what the odds.
Dutch filmmaker, journalist and rap fanatic Bram Van Splunteren stepped into the city for one intense week in 1986. He was armed with five things: a camera crew, a map, a deep respect for the hip-hop artform, a list of phone numbers, and a burning desire to get to the bottom of what this still-growing subculture was all about. By the time he left, he had the answers he needed, along with a treasure trove of golden video footage. Tragically, these images never returned from Europe, languishing in obscurity from hip-hop’s homeland for more than a quarter-century. Until now.
Big Fun in the Big Town is about hip-hop when artistry in the game was still at its center. When skills, not hype, got you your first record deal. When Run-DMC took the reins from Doug E Fresh and Grandmaster Flash, paving the way for hundreds of other hitmakers to follow. When a chart-topping LL Cool J still lived with his Grandmother. When the Latin Quarter was the club to be at on any weekend night. And when artists from all backgrounds could taste their own pop chart dreams, just beyond their reach but still seemingly attainable.
This essential, fast-paced documentary shows hip-hop from just about every angle, and approaches its subjects with a journalistic sobriety and respect rarely given to this oft-misunderstood artform and culture, even to this day. It presents worldwide superstars and aspiring rappers, dancers and beatboxers on an even playing field, reminding us that rap was once a wide-open game for anyone with talent to grab at the brass ring of fame.
Commercially available for the first time ever after more than 25 years, Big Fun in the Big Town is nothing short of a revelation.
Dutch director Bram Van Splunteren has been a noted music, arts and human-interest documentarian for more than two decades, known for feature films on The Red Hot Chili Peppers (“A Dutch Connection”) and Loudon Wainwright (“One Man Guy”), among many others. For more information, visit: www.bramvansplunteren.nl.
We are pleased to announce that the great Oliver Wang covered our Marshall McLuhan release on NPR!
Click Here to read the article
For more info on this release click below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: LONDON, England – The Oxnard, California based beat-smith and emcee Oh No returns for a solo mission following two successful collaborative efforts alongside fellow producer/rapper The Alchemist as the power duo Gangrene -2010’s Gutter Water and 2012’s Vodka & Ayahuasca- and the 2011 gem with The Alchemist as Gangrene & Roc Marciano, the Greneberg EP.
This time, Oh No (born Michael Jackson; younger brother of Madlib and son of singer Otis Jackson) was granted unprecedented access to the Rudy Ray Moore / Dolemite audio archives and given free rein to slice, dice, chop and sample his way through the classic-yet-absolutely-filthy catalog. He was able to use legendary material from The Human Tornado, Petey Wheatstraw, the Dolemite Soundtrack and more, plus a multitude of previously unreleased and alternate acapellas and instrumentals.
The end result is Ohnomite, a 19 track head-banging extravaganza of sloppy funk, dirty soul, and brainy lyricism, all aimed at one thing- making your head nod and your ass shake. Much like his 2009 all-Ethiopian endeavor Dr. No’s Ethiopium, Oh No tackles this with an unmatched ferocity and proper admiration for the source material. He combines side-splitting vocal outtakes with the right amount of hard-hitting drum breaks and soul samples to concoct a mixture sure to appeal to both old and new schoolers alike. And when you add to that guests spots from the likes of MF Doom, Evidence, Phife Dawg, The Alchemist, Erick Sermon, Rapper Pooh, MED, Guilty Simpson, Roc Marciano, Sticky Fingaz, Chino XL, Roc C, Prozack Turner, Termanology, Frank Nitt and more, and you are left with a one of a kind album from a one of a kind musician. Ohnomite- 19 songs of pure whoop ass from Oh No and Dolemite!
(August 17, 2010 – New York, NY) Five Day Weekend and Traffic Entertainment are proud to announce the upcoming DVD release of 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s, director Gary Weis‘ 1979 documentary about the South Bronx and its gang culture. The previously unavailable film will be released in the Fall of 2010, the first time it has been offered to the public in decades, and will be accompanied by a handful of exciting bonus features.
Director Gary Weis was still working as a short film creator for Saturday Night Live when he came up with the idea for80 Blocks after reading a Jon Bradshaw article, “Savage Skulls.” Published in a 1977 issue of Esquire Magazine, the piece centered on two gangs based in the South Bronx at the time — the Savage Nomads and theSavage Skulls. Weis became infatuated with the story and, soon after striking up a dialogue with Bradshaw, he convinced SNL producer Lorne Michaels to help him produce the film. Just two years later, in 1979, Weis and Bradshaw brought a camera crew to speak with members of both gangs, along with police officers, community activists, and civilians.
Despite its role as an important and unflinching portrait of a profoundly interesting time in New York’s cultural history, 80 Blocks was, for many years, impossible to find, only briefly available as an educational VHS release in 1985. In the years since its initial release, the documentary has gained an overwhelming cult status. With little to no news coverage over the decades since its release dedicated fans continued to buzz about the film. That buzz grewexponentially via the internet, which provided fans a common platform to fondly look back not only the at documentary itself, but the era that it captured so vividly.
The cries of many have been heard. For the first time in 25 years, the soon-to-be-released DVD will be accessible by the public, and will include interviews with producer/filmmaker Weis and director of photography Joan Churchill, as well as a 40 page book comprised of the original “Savage Skulls” article, an essay by David Hollander, and artwork by Julian Allen. All of this is, of course, to accompany both full and widescreen versions of the film that started it all.
Check out the official 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s trailer:
Five Day Weekend proudly presents a trailer for the upcoming re-release of “80 Blocks From Tiffany’s.” Available commercially for the first time in 25 years, “80 Blocks…” finally gets to see the light of day, and will, without a doubt, take its rightful place among the best documentary films of the 1970s.
Only a filmmaker like Gary Weis, with strong youth and counter-culture credits (including his numerous productions for the original Saturday Night Live), could penetrate the mental and physical fortresses constructed by the young toughs who prowl the New York streets in gangs. Weis gets on the inside of these gangs and exposes their illegal activities, their techniques, their reasons, their girls, and the cops who interact with them.
The much anticipated DVD release will include the feature film as well as never before seen interviews, a 40 page hardcover book featuring brand new liner notes, artwork by Julian Allen, the original “Savage Skulls” article by the late Jon Bradshaw (Esquire Magazine, June 1977) and more.
(Trailer and beat by Will C.)
Heavily bootlegged for years on VHS, Ricky Powell’s early 90s
Rappin’ With The Rickster cable access show gave insight into the world of
the foulmouthed, trouble-making New York City scenester. But this ain’t your
cousin’s bootlegs – What you hold in your hand are carefully selected “best
of” moments from the series, lifted straight off of Ricky’s vintage analog
masters and delivered right to your brain stem courtesy of the fine folks at
Five Day Weekend. In addition to this incredible slice of vintage NYC street
culture, the Rickster wanted to take it a step further with this release. We
brought him back in the studio to get his Dean Martin on, hosting commentary
over a virtual slideshow of his favorite pics from his ziploc bag full of
slides. If that isn’t the icing on the cake… we also laced him with a new
camera, got him feeling nice, and turned him loose on Greenwich Village on
some 2010 Rickster steez. So we got the new… and we got the old. And yeah
yeah… it’s real cool to be retro these days… but for every thousand emulators
there’s only one innovator… Ricky Powell is the mandingus general… The lazy
After the success of Mr. Chop’s all-instrumental version of Pete Rock inspired songs For Pete’s Sake, we approached CL Smooth about the possibility of re-recording his vocals for Mr. Chop’s version of two Pete Rock & CL Smooth classics: “T.R.O.Y” and “Straighten It Out”. 20 years after the original release of both tracks on the Mecca and the Soul Brother LP, CL sounds as fresh as ever, performing with the smooth, natural ease he’s known for.
Both singles feature instrumental versions on the B-side.