Belly Isn't Just Your Average "Rap Film"
"Belly" is no where near the average fare rap fans we being served in hip-hop's earliest attempts to break into mainstream film.
The primary reason for this is because it was written and directed by a cutting edge music video director at the time named Hype Williams.
Hype Williams completely dominated hip-hop videos in the 90s, with his cinematic story-telling music videos that featured everyone from Puff Daddy all the way to Busta Rhymes.
Williams treated each 3-5 minute video with a sense of prestige and sophistication that easily rose above the shoestring budgets and limited visions of early rap video directors.
By the time Williams was ready to write and shoot "Belly", he had already developed close relationships with several artists, two of which he chose to star as leads in his ground-breaking film.
What makes Belly stand out from other stabs at hip-hop film is that the story is told in a way that can be appreciated by fans of rap, as well as, others not so closely connected with the space.
For example, even though Sincere(Nas) and Tommy(DMX) a.k.a Buns are dope dealers, the film focuses on the internal/external conflicts each character encounters during his pursuit of true happiness.
Where most hiphop films faltered prior to "Belly" is that they only highlighted and glorified the negative traits of urban life such as murder and crime. This is not a film to point out the obvious, but show another side of the hustla lifestyle that never seems to reach the front page.
It's really an entertaining film with cameos from other hiphop artists such as Method Man that has ultimately created opportunity for future hiphop acts to be considered as marketable actors.
The evidence of this can be seen in the film careers of artists such as Ludacris, Bow-Wow and 50 Cent.
There's not many films that change the game so to speak, but Belly is one that did just that for Hiphop.
Can Nas & DMX Really Act?
One of the things we enjoyed about the film was that the characters of Sincere and Tommy were similar to what you'd expect to see from DMX or Nas in each given situation.
If you know anything about the music Nas has created over the years, you'd know he's not one to present himself as a tough guy, but one to report the street news. In Belly, Sincere is a hustla with a big heart and dreams of finding a deeper purpose in his life outside of money.
Simmons on the other hand, is not the guy you would want to owe money to in music or real life and his character Tommy is perfectly inline with Earl's DMX persona.
In our opinion, yes these two rappers can act within roles related to the music they produce.
Now, if Nas tries to make a film going back to back with Pacino our opinion might be a little bit different.
After Watching Belly...
We are still as pleased as we were when it first came out in 1999. "Belly" is a true staple within the HipHop community and deserves every ounce of praise it receives.
If it wasn't for Belly, films such as "Hustle & Flow" or "Notorious" would not have had as much reach or been as successful as they are today. But that's just our opinion. What do you think?
Enjoy The Trailer