Turn It Up

Guns blaze and attitude rules as this generically titled urban drama about an aspiring rapper torn between loyalty to his old friends and desire to leave the street life behind recycles every gangsta cliché in the canon. Friends since they were kids in the projects, Diamond (former Fugee Pras) and Gage (rapper Ja Rule) are bound together by loyalty that's...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Guns blaze and attitude rules as this generically titled urban drama about an aspiring rapper torn between loyalty to his old friends and desire to leave the street life behind recycles every gangsta cliché in the canon. Friends since they were kids in the

projects, Diamond (former Fugee Pras) and Gage (rapper Ja Rule) are bound together by loyalty that's increasingly strained by their diverging world views. Diamond, who's devoted to music, wants a career as a rapper and longs for legitimacy, while hot-headed Gage loves the glamour and easy thrills of the thug life. They're both working for stone-cold, English drug dealer Mr. B (Jason Stratham) while Diamond, a perfectionist, spends endless hours in a local recording studio trying to get his demo tracks just right. Then everything goes wrong at once: Diamond's mom dies; his girlfriend (Tamala Jones) gets pregnant; and his long-absent dad (Vondie Curtis-Hall), a failed musician, blows back into town wagging his finger about the soullessness of digitized music. Diamond loses his studio-time discount and his dope-fiend producer (Chris Messina) becomes too strung out to work. The capper comes when Gage — who's pressuring Diamond to bypass the demo process and go straight to recording an independent album — kills another thug and steals $100,000 to finance the project; what Gage doesn't know is that the cash actually belonged to Mr. B. Pras and Ja Rule, musicians with virtually no screen experience (Pras had a small part in MYSTERY MEN and Ja Rule appears in the documentary BACKSTAGE) deliver assured performances, and veteran Hall helps anchor some of Pras's more emotionally complex scenes. But this 'hood drama mines all-too-familiar material — making the "ambitious kid looking to escape the wrong side of the tracks" a rapper doesn't make the story fresh.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Guns blaze and attitude rules as this generically titled urban drama about an aspiring rapper torn between loyalty to his old friends and desire to leave the street life behind recycles every gangsta cliché in the canon. Friends since they were kids in the… (more)

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