The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Belly (1998)

"Belly" (1998) is an urban noir film written and directed by famous music director Hype Williams. Nasir Jones (Nas) and Anthony Bodden assisted Williams with the story. The movies consist of hip-hop and RnB artists as the primary cast and established actors with more minor roles. Earl Simmons (DMX) and Nas lead the film. Additional actors include Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins, Hassan Johnson, Taral Hicks, Clifford Smith Jr. (Method Man), Tyrin Turner, and Louie Rankin. The film's soundtrack was very successful, peaking at #5 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

"Belly" is a cult movie crafted during an evolving period of black filmmaking and music. Hip-hop was expanding into a new commercial realm, and filmmaking was one of them. As a result, more rappers were getting into acting. "Belly" was a big studio production that stood above many lower-budget hip-hop films other producers released in the late 90s. However, what made this film stand out was the popularity of DMX. 

DMX released "It's Dark and Hell is Hot" in May of 1998, causing an enormous impact on the hip-hop industry post 2pac and Biggie's death. DMX ruled in the summer of 1998, and it wasn't even close. Artisan Entertainment released "Belly" in November, and DMX released his second album, "Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood," in December. DMX's success as a hip-hop artist made "Belly" a more significant film than it would have been if producers released it a year later. In addition, of course, Nas, T-Boz, and Method Man contributed to the film's popularity. Method Man released his second album two weeks after the movie's release, and Nas and TLC released their following albums, "It Was Written" and "FanMail" in 1999.

Besides the movie's hip-hop popularity, the film is only for some. It's violent and vulgar, with terrible and exaggerated representations of black people. Writers tried to incorporate some redemption in the film's characters, but the audience may lose the message because of the film's content. However, the writers did conceive a well-scripted story. In addition, Williams shot the movie in New Jersey, NYC, and Jamacia, but the general vibe of the film is NYC hip-hop culture.

Director: Hype Williams
Writers: Hype Williams, Nas, Anthony Bodden

Starring DMX, Nas, Hassan Johnson, Taral Hicks, Taral Hicks, Oliver 'Power' Grant, Louie Rankin, Stan Drayton, James Parris, Method Man, Kurt Loder, Benjamin F. Chavis, Tyrin Turner, Jay Black, LaVita Raynor

Ever since they were kids, Sincere (Nas) and Buns (DMX) have lived a life close to the edge, doing whatever it takes to survive. As adults, they build up their kingdom of crime through drug dealing and robbery. But Sincere grows weary of the criminal lifestyle and joins a black Muslim religious group. Buns, on the other hand, sink deeper into criminality and faces serious prison time. The cops offer him a deal, however -- assassinate the head of the Muslim group, and he will go free.