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So on one of my #NetflixandChill nights by myself, I watched the indie movie Dope last year. Now this movie was produced by Pharrell William’s production company iamOther and was directed by the director of such great ’90s movies such as The Wood and Brown Sugar.
This movie is Dope (pun definitely intended). It tells the story of Malcolm, a black nerd living in the hood of Inglewood, CA with his two best friends. They, of course, are your typical nerds who are bullied & robbed every day by the kids who just don’t get them. They like what the other kids call “white things” like rock music, skateboarding, Game of Thrones, and getting good grades. But their biggest nerdy thing that they are into is ’90s hip hop and hip hop culture and have a punk/funk band.
So one day Malcolm meets this drug dealer played by A$AP Rocky & his girl played by Zoë Kravitz and gets invited to A$AP’s birthday party at a club. Once there, Malcolm and his friends have a lot of fun until a shootout happens and everyone runs out the club. Malcolm grabs his bag but doesn’t realize A$AP stuck his Molly (Dope) stash he was selling in there. The next day he realizes that it’s in his bag when he gets to school and hilarious things ensue until they realize they must go into the Dope slaying (Molly selling) business to get rid of the stash. In the end Malcolm & Zoë end up together and his world is turned upside down.
Now one central theme throughout the movie is Malcolm applying to Harvard. At first his essay is pretty mundane according to his principal but after everything that happened he writes a well thought out essay on what he has learned.
To me, this movie combines the styles of Friday, Boyz in the Hood & 21 Jump Street as it gives off that very ’90s vibe with the style, look, and music but also keeps it current with social media and the Internet.
One thing I would like to warn any watchers of this movie is that there is this whole scene with a lot of nakedness & boobs which, if you're into that, cool more power to you. Now it doesn’t necessarily take away from the movie but at times though it can get a tad overkill but can also bring to the comedy in one scene.
Another big warning in this movie is they throw the N word around like water. Now to give context I understand why they say it a lot and only really the black kids say it except this one white guy who gets slapped for it. While they do try to have a conversation about why the white guy can’t say the word (by referencing A Tribe Called Quest song) but blacks can they ended up in the end just making light of the whole situation.
This movie mixes the situational coming of age elements of a ’80s John Hughes movie mixed with a ’90s inner-city movie like Boyz in the Hood, Juice, and Friday. It explains how there can be things that as a nerd some of your black pears might not understand and then there are some black things your nerd friends might not understand. It’s kind of like AfroPunk which is a safe space for black rock fans, black nerds, & black alternative kids who don’t subscribe to the norm of what society thinks black people should act.
Their fashion is also a call back to ’90s fashion like their high-top fades in Fresh Prince and Kid from Kid and Play style, chucks, trainer jackets, backwards snapbacks, overalls, and in true backpack rapper fashion they have the backpacks full of records. I love it I’m a little obsessed with ’90s fashion and my childhood so that’s a thing.
Music plays a big role in this movie as the main nerd characters are all heavily into ’90s hip-hop. From the way they dress to the lingo they use and everything in between. The Humpy Dance and Hammer Dance find their way into the movie as well as many other nerdy ’90s hip-hop classics. Also, the soundtrack to this movie is incredible with many ’90s bangers like "Hip-Hop Hooray" by Naughty By Nature, "Buggin Out" by A Tribe Called Quest, "The World is Yours" by Nas among others as well as some orginial music by Malcome, the main character's, band Awreeoh. They also feature some modern song as well like "Go!" by Santigold ft. Karen O, "Dirty Feeling" by LOLAWOLF Zoe Kravitz’s band and "Poppin’ Off" by Watch the Duck.
Now we all know I’m heavy into ’90s music and music in general of all genres and I love ’90s hip-hop so I really appreciated that they made that their nerdum. Whenever a move is made about nerds, one they're not black but two they are always into the typical nerd stuff like comic books, cartoons, video games, & Dungeons and Dragons (I know pretty old references but you could replace D & D with Pokemon or Power Rangers or Anime and have the same thing). Anyway I’m just glad they showed us a different kind of nerd because although I don’t totally consider myself a “nerd, geek, dweeb” per-se we all have our fandom and things were really big into and know a lot about like me and music or social justice.
It’s also really cool that Pharrell had a hand in this movie as he is the king of black nerds and alternative kids. His iamOther company is basically a celebration of weird which is great. Plus Pharrell used to be in a dope band called literately N*E*R*D which influenced the group the Internet and mixed rock and hip-hop in the best way.
Anyway I definitely recommend checking this movie out if you have ever been curious what a black nerd is like outside of the OG Steve Urkle.
On that note, here are a few things that can help introduce you to the Black Nerd Culture:
Black Nerd Comedy: Ok take your average nerd now make him an ’80s-’90s buff who loves, TMNT, Smurfs, Power Rangers, Gremlins and much much more. Oh and did I mention he is black and old like in his 30s or 40s old lol I came across Andre about 3 years and man he is funny. But besides being really really funny he also talks from the perspective of a black nerd which I think is great. Anyway I highly recommend you check him out here and here! (Check out a lot of his earlier videos those are the funniest).
Well Until Next Time…“Did I Do That?” #KeepItDope