Fear Of A Black Hat: Retro Review
In preparation for this months gangsta rap biopic, Straight Outta Compton, we’re celebrating a month-long look at hip hop in film. Last week we had the”mockumentary” stylings of CB4, what better to follow that up with the grittier (RE: lower budget) Fear of A Black Hat.
Fear Of A Black Hat is perhaps best described as “This Is Spinal Rap” a phrase director Rusty Cundieff was fond of using. At times the “homage” to Rob Reiner‘s film, This is Spinal Tap, looks like.. and is… A straight up rip off. The Structure, pacing, and at times scene by scene, nearly identical. Fear Of A Black Hat even mirrored Spinal Tap’s long succession of drummers mysteriously dying, but replaced them with the groups agents.
This is not to say that this film is without merit, in fact it excels because it is a mockumentary of a mockumentary.
Kick that shit
Fear Of A Black Hat Follows postgrad Nina Blackburn (Kasi Lemmons) as she spends a year on the road with N.W.H (Niggaz With Hats) and witnesses their rise and fall as they prepare for the release of their third album. N.W.H, an Obvious nod to N.W.A, features parodies of contemporary rap artists of the 90’s. Ice Cold (Rusty Cundieff) — a mix of Chuck D, Ice Cube and T. Tasty-Taste (Larry B. Scott) Eazy-E and Flavor Flav and chunky DJ Tone Def (Mark Christopher Lawrence) caricaturing P.M Dawn.
Life is good for the up and coming group but as success gets to their heads the group begins to drift apart with different ventures, and tension begins to arise. Eventually culminating when Ice Cold is caught in bed with Tasty-Taste’s gold digger causing the group to break up and then eventually stage a comeback.
Throw your Hands up in the air
Fear Of A Black Hat does well when Rusty Cundieff’s character Ice Cold is at the helm lampooning common rap stereotypes:
“Kill Whitey” was a subculture of rap in the early 90’s “popularized” by Brand Nubian, Apache and Ice Cube (Yes, the star of are we there yet is racist as fuck). N.W.H explains their own controversial Kill Whitey Track:
The unfair treatment by law enforcement:
The parodies of rappers/filmmakers of the time was great as well, including:
Jike Spingleton: filmmakers John Singleton and Spike Lee
M.C. Slammer: M.C. Hammer
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: Salt ‘n’ Pepa
Vanilla Sherbet: Vanilla Ice
Yo Highness: Queen Latifah
Ice Tray, Ice Box, Ice Coffee, Ice Berg, etc.: variations of the name “Ice” and how abundant it was in the rap industry.
The Jam Boys: The Ghetto Boys
At times Fear Of A Black Hat runs a gag into the ground. “Fuck the security guards” is a perfect example. Plenty of funny stuff from the “I’m Full of coffee and donuts” to the sketch artist but the pacing of the scene was just painful. The New Mack Village scene was nod inducing as well.
But when dealing with films of this ilk there are jokes that hit and some that just fall flat, Even Spinal Tap stumbled at times.
All in All, Fear Of A Black Hat is a great film that will be enhanced if you own a few Public Enemy or N.W.A records, but will stand on its own.