Artist: DVD reviewTitle: Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip Hop Cop (DVD)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana
The premise of the movie Minority Report is that we would one day live in a world where we can predict crimes before they happen. If done by enhanced psychic photographs, this movement is simply revolutionary, but if done by heavy surveillance of the Hip-Hop community, it's simply racism. The documentary, Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip Hop Cop (Image Entertainment), is an overdue explanation of the Rap Intelligence Unit, a NYPD division which keeps a dossier detailing the arrest records of various rappers and their affiliates.
Based on the experiences of retired NYPD detective Derrick Parker, Black and Blue gives its viewers a voyeur's peak into this controversial rap intelligence unit. Parker and several other NYPD figureheads divulge never before released details surrounding Hip-Hop's highest profile cases, from the murder of Tupac Shakur to the Hot 97 shooting that would eventually lead to Lil Kims perjury conviction.
The bottom line is that for years the NYPD has been pulling a Truman Show on the rap industry. If you are rapper and have so much as coughed in somebody else's air, your record has been documented in "the binder". Even lyrical freedom of speech is closely monitored, like in the case of "Who Shot Guiliani?", a single released by rap group Screwball, which spurned a thorough investigation for its violent content against New York City's former mayor Rudy Guiliani.
Black and Blue is a nice film in that back-of-the-math-book type way. It gives you all the necessary answers like how the Miami Herald was the first media outlet to know of the Hip-Hop squad and how NYPD detectives handle witnesses in high profile cases. Headliners like Rev. Al Sharpton, Wyclef Jean, and Fabolous also give helpful accounts of their experiences with the NYPD.
Still, as a film which challenges the ethics of the NYPD's rap squad, Black and Blue comes short. Instead of being infuriated at the binder's inherent racial profiling, rap icons like Damon Dash and Black Rob are filled with glee when they see their files in the dossier, taking it as enhancement of their otherwise shaky street credibility. Not to mention the Hip-Hop Cop himself, Derrick Parker, who is making a pretty smiley-face dollar out of all of this hoopla. Black and Blue does a good job documenting these unfair proceedings in the NYPD, but leaves room for the film that will help change them.