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Belly
Directed by Hype Williams
1998

I rewatched this over the weekend after thinking about Spring Breakers and then coming across this scene on YouTube where Hype Williams gives Harmony Korine a shout by having DMX’s character put on his film Gummo after they pull of a robbery. 

Although there are a few similarities, I wouldn’t necessarily call Spring Breakers, “a female-led remake of Hype Williams’ Belly as directed by Gus Van Sant” as one reviewer puts it. 

I guess you could draw comparisons with Nas’s character Sincere and Selena Gomez’s Faith–both with not-so-subtle names and are looking to find themselves, either in Florida or in Africa–but that’s likely coincidence. Or maybe this was Harmony Korine’s way of nodding back to Hype Williams for the Gummo scene. I’m sure there is a film student out there somewhere just waiting to write an essay comparing Nas to Selena Gomez and this could be your shining moment.

The neon cinematography is also coincidence considering well, ALL Hype Williams videos looked like pre-Gaspar Noe movies anyways. There is also the use of rappers-as-actors and rap music in general, but again, this is a Hype Williams directed movie with a soundtrack on Def Jam so it’s no surprise to have Nas, DMX, and Method Man (and even T-Boz, what up) as the main cast. 

There’s also the great character of Big Head Rico, sort of like a mix between James Franco’s Alien and Gucci Mane, but with pre-Stankonia Andre 3000 perm and a penchant for eating bananas. Who if only had more screen time, would be the much better villain. Actually I wish there would be a spin-off of just Big Head Rico and his crew because he was a pretty great character.

I don’t think there’s a lot to really dive in here but the two films would make for a pretty good double-feature on style/substance and the use of rap culture in cinema. Also Belly, as flawed as it is, seems like the type of movie that’s one film essay and special edition away from belonging in the Criterion Collection.

Over the weekend I thought about how much the film Spring Breakers sort of reminded me of the Hype Williams rap classic Belly down to its themes, neon cinematography, and casting rappers as actors.

I came across two reviews that compared the two films with both reviewers mentioning this exact scene in which Hype Williams gives Harmony Korine a shout out by having DMX put on Gummo after they commit a robbery.

This might also be the best moment in which art house and the rap world have ever converged and we have Hype Williams to thank for that.

[NOTE: I haven’t seen this movie since probably high school but since revisiting it now I think it deserves a lot better rating than the 4.9 it currently has on IMDB]

MERRY DMX-MAS

Under: DMX

Has anyone else watched the DMX Behind the Music? It kinda bummed me out

(via 19o1)