Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Welcome To Durham (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jay Peregrine
Produced by the Butta Team, a group of Durham music and entertainment producers, Welcome to Durham, introduces the spirit of Durham, North Carolina to the world. The film does not attempt to solely depict how rough life is in Durham is but rather uses the city as a microcosm to explain how guns, gangs, drugs and systematic apathy can wreak havoc on a community. The producers however go far beyond that aspect and take a closer look at the reasons for these problems and examine a community of residents who are banding together to solve these problems at their core and find real solutions.
The Teddy Jacobs produced documentary begins by tracking the history of the African American Community in Durham from the days when the local economy was fueled by tobacco farming up to the current times where it’s fueled by the Pharmaceutical industry. The film analyzes the conditions of a community fueled by it’s own pharmaceutical trade. Welcome to Durham is told by the accounts of people at all levels within the community. From gang bangers in project buildings all the way up to the Mayor in City Hall. It’s about men who are looking for a way to make a living in a town where there aren’t many outlets and the lure of fast money and the feeling of disenfranchisement are too powerful for many to overcome. Not surprisingly, a lot of people in Durham view the rap game as a vehicle to better their lives. The film introduces a number of local Durham artists such as Kal Royale and M.O.S., amongst others. The Butta Team also offers perspective from Chris Martin (Kid-n-Play), Big Daddy Kane, Big Pooh and 9th Wonder who offer some keen insight into the conditions in Durham. So do a local ministers, a barber, an ex-hustla-turned community activist named Vegas Don (A.K.A. Holly Bop), and a woman who is teaching 12 and 13 year olds how to start businesses and a host of others who offer their most sincere efforts to invoke change in the city. By the time the film is over you rally feel like you have gotten to know these people.
Complete with an excellent soundtrack and insightful commentary from all of the participants, Welcome to Durham is a very personable documentary that takes you to the heart of Durham while its residents show that they have the heart to deal with their problem head on. They courageously choose to expose, confront and deal with the issue so that healing and life as it was meant to be can begin.