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Adam Yauch: Beastie Boy and Future Hoop Stars Unite at Rucker for Documentary

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No matter how many All Star or All American games you have played in, if you

want to earn your stripes in the game of basketball, playing at the Rucker is

almost mandatory. Everybody from Dr. J all the way to Kobe Bryant have laced it

up on basketball’s most storied playground.

 

In August 2006, eight of the nation’s most high profile high school players

made the trip to Harlem to play in the first

annual Elite 24 All Star Game.

 

Four of the eight players, Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Kevin Love

(UCLA), Jerryd Bayless (Arizona ) and Donte Green (Syracuse) are on their way

to being first round picks in this Thursday’s NBA Draft.

 

The rest of the bunch: Brandon Jennings (Arizona signee), Kyle Singler (Duke),

Lance Stephenson (Lincoln High School star) and Tyreke Evans (Memphis signee)

are soon to follow. 

 

Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot follows

these eight phenoms in the days leading up to the game. New York City native

and member of the legendary Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch a.k.a. MCA, produced and

directed this documentary that hits theaters on Friday, June 27.

 

This is the fifth film for the very busy Yauch, and he took a time out to

tell us about this B-ball documentary.

 

AllHipHop.com: Tell us a little about

your new movie. 

 

Adam Yauch: It’s a documentary about the top high school basketball players

in the country. And more generally, it’s just about the climate and the world

of subculture of elite high school basketball.

 

It looks at what life is like in the world of the top high school players

and the documentary focuses on an All Star Game that took play in ’06 at the

Rucker in Harlem. And the doc’ really focuses on eight of the players that were

in that All Star Game. So that’s a quick recap. [laughs]

 

AllHipHop.com: This is the fifth

documentary you have directed or produced. What made you want to go with a

basketball themed film? 

 

Adam Yauch: It was really a last

minute decision to do this. A friend of mine was organizing an All Star Game,

and he asked my advice in documenting it. And I just started coming up with

some ideas and it seemed like a cool documentary. It was really Summer of ’06

when I decided to do it, but it just sounded like a really cool project, so I jumped

into it.

 

AllHipHop.com: Coming into filming,

what was the most important thing you wanted to capture?

Adam Yauch: I wanted to get a sense of what these guys’ lives are like. What

it’s like to be a high school ball player and what it feels like to be one of

the top players in the country. And also just get a sense of what the Rucker is

about.

 

AllHipHop.com: In the past, the Beastie Boys have made references to John

Starks and Bill Laimbeer in your rhymes. How big was basketball for you

growing up?

 

Adam Yauch: Not that big of a deal.

You know, Adam [Ad-Rock] and Mike [Mike D] actually know a lot more about

statistics and basketball trivia. I went to some games growing up, but I wasn’t

a huge basketball fan growing up.   

 

AllHipHop.com: What was it like working with these ball players? 

 

Adam Yauch: It was pretty amazing. It was pretty cool meeting them at such a

young age and see how motivated they are and just getting a sense of these

guys. It’s very interesting, and I think it will be cool to look back like 10

years from now and see where they’re all at. Well it was interesting; they are

very different in their personalities and their backgrounds. They come from

different worlds.

 

AllHipHop.com: From the trailer, it looks like Michael Beasley is a fun guy who

likes to clown around. I think he pulled down the pants of Jerryd Bayless in

that clip. Tell us about what Mike is like.

 

Adam Yauch: Yeah, he’s kind of like the class clown. When he walks in the

room, he does manage to be the center of attention. And I think that’s part of

his game too, I think he does get inside of everyone’s head when he plays.

 

He was talking trash to everyone on the court, he was talking to the ref,

the coaches, the people in the audience watching the game.  He was talking to people on his team, talking

to people on the other team, and I think somehow that is part of his

personality. And that sort of seems like he’s influencing the direction of the

game…it’s definitely interesting to watch. 

 

AllHipHop.com: What did the players know about the Beastie Boys? Did they

ever ask you about it?

 

Adam Yauch: I don’t think they really recognized me but sometime somebody’s

coach would say to the kid, “You know who this is?” Donte Green’s coach said, “I

used to listen to these guys when I was a kid.”

 

AllHipHop.com: Even though they were all high school superstars, did you

think they were a little nervous going into a park with the legacy like Rucker?

Do you think they felt the pressure to perform well with their reputations on

the line?

 

Adam Yauch: Yeah, I think they were nervous. But I think they were honored

to come and play at the Rucker and you can feel that. These guys are so revered

in their own markets and their own neighborhoods, so trying to establish that

at the Rucker was huge for them. I don’t know if scared is exactly the right

word, but I think they definitely felt “Ok, it’s time to turn it on now.”

 

I mean, I could put together a whole series of every single player and their

coach saying like, “Oh it’s the Rucker, you have to bring it, gotta bring it.”

I think the words ‘bring it’ came up over and over.

 

AllHipHop.com: What about the two suburban guys from Oregon, Kyle Sigler and

Kevin Love? Did they appear more nervous?

 

Adam Yauch: I don’t know. I mean, I think both those guys are pretty

confidant players. Kyle and Kevin are pretty solid. I don’t know if they were

really nervous. Kyle scored the first five points of the game. They both played

well. 

 

AllHipHop.com: All these guys have been very successful since you shot the

movie. Have you been following their careers very closely the past two

years? 

 

Adam Yauch: A bit. Like I said before, I’m not one to follow basketball a

great deal. But I definitely check in sometimes to see how they are all doing,

and it’s pretty amazing.

 

AllHipHop.com: Bobbito Garcia is one of the most influential people in the

world when it comes down to playground basketball and NYC Hip-Hop culture. How

big was it having him involved in the film as a narrator and MC? 

 

Adam Yauch: I think it was tremendous. Bobbito added so much flavor to that

game. The year after we did it, it was these two corny NBA guys and they would

say stuff like, “Oh his nickname was Too Easy,” and it just drained the life

out of the game.

 

Bobbito is such a part of the neighborhood, such a part of the history of

the Rucker and just the way he’s just clowning the kids. And listening to him,

you really understand the culture of the Rucker. Even just the way he nicknames

these guys is unique. Bobbito is a critical part of this film.

 

AllHipHop.com: As far as the cinematography goes, what kind of things did

you try to do? 

 

Adam Yauch: Well during the game, I just wanted to cover the game from a lot

of different angles. I wanted to shoot it with long lenses and wide lenses. I just

wanted to explore the playground, so that whatever went on, I wanted to go back

and dissect what really happened. 

 

AllHipHop.com: What’s next for you in the near future? Do you have any

projects as far as film and music goes? 

 

Adam Yauch: Well right now, we’re recording. We have a record on the way.

 

AllHipHop.com: The last record was you guys made was a Grammy-winning

instrumental album, what is the direction this time around?

 

Adam Yauch: It’s more of a mixture of different stuff. There’s definitely a

fair amount of hip hop we’re working on. We’re not done with it, but it’s

definitely a mixed bag.

 

AllHipHop.com: You guys have been around the music game since the early

‘80s. What is your take on Hip-Hop today?

 

Adam Yauch: I mean I like it. I like what’s happening with Hip-Hop. Just

listening to different people like Jay-Z. There’s kids now that just grew up

hearing Hip-Hop since they were born, so it’s a new generation. There’s some

good sh*t coming up. I’m not mad at it.

 

AllHipHop.com: Are there any acts besides Jay-Z that you are feeling right

now?

 

Adam Yauch: Lately I’ve been listening to records from the late ‘90s like

Nas and Biggie and whatnot.

 

AllHipHop.com: Where can people catch the film?

Adam Yauch: It’s playing on Magic Johnson’s on 125th

Street [and at] AMC on 42nd Street. I’m just naming the New York, but if people

are interested around the country you can look at www.gunninmovie.com.

 

I think this is a movie that is best to see in a

theater. The way its shot is really crisp, and the way the sound is mixed with

the surround sound with the Hip-Hop songs, it’s definitely the theatrical

experience.

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