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Krush Groove (1985)

May 15th, 2007 · 2 Comments

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When the single “King of Rock” by rap group Run-DMC (DJ Run, DMC, and Jam Master Jay) becomes the hottest record on the street, Run’s older brother Russell (Blair Underwood) and his partner Rick (Rick Rubin) struggle to keep up with the demand from the recording label – “Krush Groove” – they run out of Rick’s dorm room at NYU.

Russell asks his father for $5,000 to press more records, but is told that if he can do this thing on his own, it’ll prove he’s finally grown up. He receives an offer from “Galaxy Records” for Krush Groove’s stable of artists – Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde – but turns it down. Run finds out, and is even more irate when Russell gets involved with Sheila (Sheila E.), a foxy percussionist both brothers have a thing for.

Seeking to emulate Run-DMC’s success are three high school kids who call themselves The Disco 3 (Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock-Ski, The Human Beat Box). They later change their name to The Fat Boys. Meanwhile, Kurtis Blow does his best to keep Krush Groove from breaking apart.

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Producer George Jackson approached Michael Schultz, director of Cooley High, Car Wash and at the time, one of the only Black directors in feature films. Jackson had some articles about an underground music phenomenon called rap, and took Schultz to see Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC perform at the Long Beach Auditorium.

Backstage, the filmmakers asked Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, if he’d be interested in participating in a documentary. His rappers had other ideas. They wanted to act. Jackson, Schultz, producer Doug McHenry, and screenwriter Ralph Farquhar wrote a script fictionalizing the rise of Def Jam, Run-DMC and The Fat Boys. The result was the first major movie to put hip hop and rappers on screen.

Almost from the start, it’s clear Krush Groove is bad. Russell Simmons was co-producer and script consultant, but very little in the movie feels authentic, from the Hollywood casting of Blair Underwood, to the lame love triangle in the script. The performances are synched, and with the exception of Sheila E.’s “A Love Bizarre” and Run-DMC’s “King of Rock,” the soundtrack isn’t even good.

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Aside from Underwood – the only professional actor – most of the weight falls on Run, Prince Markie Dee and Sheila E. to carry the picture, and they do a respectable job, as does Rick Rubin, playing himself. But the filmmakers completely blew their chance to make a great film about the origins of hip hop by jettisoning their documentary approach in favor of doing a cornball exploitation flick.

It was interesting to watch this with Beat Street and observe how within the span of fifteen months, hip hop went from kids on the street corner hustling for change, to Run buying a dozen pair of Adidas sneakers, with a whole crop of youngsters lining up to make it big. I know which story I found more appealing.

Krush Groove is a Who’s Who of old school, at least. In addition to Run-DMC, Sheila E., and The Fat Boys, LL Cool J made his screen debut, doing “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”. Kurtis Blow and New Edition each perform a song, and The Beastie Boys appear briefly performing “She’s On It.” Never have so many rappers been in a movie together, at least until Ted Demme directed Who’s The Man?

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Tags: Concert · High school · Music · Train

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 80'sgirl // Aug 20, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I love this movie and Beat street

  • 2 Jen // Feb 16, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    PLAY IT BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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