Pick Up The Mic (2006)

DVD Cover (Rhino Films)
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Overall Rating 82%
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An explosive documentary on the world of queer hip-hop. Featuring searing public performances and intimate interviews with the community's most significant players, the film captures an underground music movement as it's about to hit the mainstream - defying the music industry's homophobic traditions in the process. --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 6, 2006
One of the reasons I had such a problem with the documentary "Be Real" is that it really didn't dive in to the subject matter the way it should have. It was too timid. It acted as if it was afraid of crossing the line. The engaging new documentary "Pick Up the Mic" does just the opposite - it gives you all the information on the subject matter that your brain can possibly handle. It takes on the culture of Homo-Hop, i.e. hip-hop for the GLBT community that is not known to most of mainstream America. It lives in the underground clubs of New York, San Francisco, London, and other hot spots like Chicago and Minneapolis. The film chronicles most of the more known artists in the genre and it tells their stories connected to how this particular musical movement is slowly catching on in the rest of the country, and throughout the world.

We meet artists like Dutch Boy, who is pretty much known as the 'godfather of the movement' - he has been making it happen for a long time and he is certainly the most celebrated in his genre. We meet Miss Money, a spiritually driven transgender who has the voice of a gospel diva and who produces rappers from her very own home. We meet God-des, who has dreams of making it big and will not let anyone tell her otherwise. And, we meet Aggracyst, who ends up with probably the most emotionally moving confession in the entire film. All in all, we are probably introduced to thirty or so musicians in the Homo-Hop scene, just trying to make enough money to eat, and trying desperately to expand people's tolerance levels and acceptances. By the end of the film, the audience is very interested in this particular genre of music and might even want to do some research on their own. I know I did. I visited the websites of some of the artists and even ordered a couple of CD's just to see what I had been missing for so long.

Some of the best moments in the films are the ones that catch you off-guard, as when the artist Katastrophe is sitting with his parents and his father calls him a 'her' by mistake. He use to be a her that is now a he and wants to be treated like the she never existed and the he has always been him. His father doesn't know what to do because he went through one period calling him a she and is now calling him a him. The son admits to the confusion and just hopes his father can do the best than he can. I also enjoyed a scene between Dutch Boy and Miss Money, when he reveals that he is a bisexual, something that Miss Money doesn't believe in, and something that somehow makes him feel like an outcast in the homosexual community. I found this scene very telling, especially when dealing with the whole idea behind gay rights. Does it matter if you are bisexual? Shouldn't it only matter that you're a human being who wants to make a difference?

I found "Pick Up the Mic" to be a fascinating portrait of a musical movement that will hopefully start gaining more attention and praise for the artform it truly is. It is no different than any of the hip-hop and rap you hear on the radio a hundred times a day. Just because a gay person is singing it doesn't make it wrong. "Pick Up the Mic" does a very fine job with the subject matter, and I know it kept my attention for the ninety minute running time, something not always easy to do at a film festival, especially when it comes after I have been in a crowded theatre all day long. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a finely crafted documentary, and learning more about culture that they might not have been introduced to before. Before the film, I knew nothing about Homo-Hop. In a couple weeks, I will be the proud owner of three Homo-Hop CD's and I cannot wait to give them a listen and see what they have to say. For more information on Homo-Hop, you can check out the official website, www.gayhiphop.com, or the film site at, www.pickupthemic.com.

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