Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Now on Netflix: Bad Rap (2017)

Bad Rap (2017) - Directed by Salima Koroma.

By Kenny Howell

Four Asian-American rappers try to make a name for themselves in this documentary now on Netflix.

Dumbfoundead, Awkwafina, Rekstizzy and Lyricks are all rappers of Asian descent trying to break into the rap game which doesn't take them too serious because of their cultures.

The documentary seems mostly to focus on Dumbfoundead, a guy who has been around for quite some and gained popularity on the rap battle scene. Despite having admirers like Drake, he has never made it big, which he thinks has to partially do with his Korean heritage. He said the odds are stacked against him because no matter how good he is, people don't take Asian men seriously. They are often the butt of jokes, even today, and the documentary shows this quite frequently.

Awkwafina is New York based rapper who burst onto the scene with her comical song, My Vag. She really started to gain attention, especially among hipster crowds, and is now a working actress, starring in films like Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and the MTV show Girl Code.

Bad Rap also deals with, to a lesser extent, the rappers Rekstizzy and Lyricks, but most of the focus stays with Dumbfoundead and Awkwafina.

I think one of the great strengths of documentaries is it can take you into a world you are not familiar with, and that is definitely true of Bad Rap. I am a casual rap and hip hop listener, so I can't claim to be extremely familiar with that scene. But I definitely do not know much about the underground Asian hip hop scene. What could seem as a woe is me argument by the rappers profiled, that they have a tougher time because they are of Asian descent, has some weight. Asian, men especially, are hard to market in the United States, so you have to work harder than everyone else to even get a shot. These four all have talent to varying degrees, but none are household names. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it is hard to deny that being Asian doesn't hold them back a bit.

I think that Bad Rap may run out of material a bit toward the end, which is not good since it is only 82 minutes long. With that being said, it still has a decent argument and getting to know these four rappers are well worth the time. They all bring something different to the table, and their journey is an interesting one even if none of them reach the heights of someone like Drake or Kendrick Lamar. They have their own story, and Bad Rap tells it well.

Bad Rap is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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