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G-Funk (SXSW Review)

Where Straight Outta Compton showed the hard-edge, down and dirty, fighting-for-justice story of NWA, G-Funk, in a way that somewhat mirrors the musical sound itself, documents the smoother and sweeter turn that Warren G, Snoop Dogg, and Nate Dogg brought to West Coast hip-hop music in the early 90s. First time director Karam Gill and producer Warren G assembled some big musical names from the era to tell a number of entertaining stories or drop memorable lines that make the film highly entertaining and a must watch for any fan of music from that time period. The music in the background of these interviews and clips should be enough to get someone in the door, but the overall story is well crafted, with an infectiously optimistic undercurrent that stands on its own.

 

G-Funk highlights the rise of musicians Nate Dogg, Warren G, and Snoop Dogg as they went from highschool buddies kicking down rhymes to battle with other kids to music legends celebrated around the world. The immensely entertaining personalities on display to help tell this story are Warren G and Snoop Dogg themselves along with other notable hip-hop artists Ice Cube, Ice T, Too $hort, and D.O.C. as well as others who had an impact on or were impacted by the movement like Russel Simmons, George Clinton, Deion Sanders, and Wiz Khalifa. It is a great collection of people and stories to help fill in some of the gaps left by Straight Outta Compton and continue the story onward.

In the film itself and the Q&A afterward, Warren G seemed like a sweet and quiet hard working guy who believed in something and made it happen despite the obstacles in his way. That sweetness and quietness serves as a real contrast to the more in-your-face boisterousness of NWA and other gangster rap groups that paved the way for G-Funk music and while this film can be seen as a great companion piece to Straight Outta Compton, it also works as a bit of a quiet rebuttal to the argument that when NWA went their separate ways, Dr. Dre just came out of nowhere and blew up on his own. G-Funk is about collaboration. Warren G, in his smooth demeanor, makes the case that collaboration was a huge part of his entire musical life and the entire musical explosion of the era.

There is just so much interesting content in this film. I don’t want to give away any of the story elements that surprised me, so it is hard to go into specifics about the content, as there are many great stories and lines. The film also has a lot of heart and speaks to the passion of its subject. When it is released, it is definitely worth a watch. G-Funk tells a story worth hearing with a nostalgic soundtrack, lovable characters, and a hopeful outlook. Go see it!

Warren G and director Karam Gill talk about the film during Q&A. Warren G is super smooth and charismatic, surprising nobody. SXSW 2017.

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I like to be challenged to think about things, so I studied Philosophy in college. Now I am paying for it.

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