With this amateurish but undeniably entertaining gangsta caper, West Coast rapper Mack 10 follows the lead of Master P, who parlayed hip-hop success into a career as producer and star of films like I GOT THE HOOK UP. The trend seems to be toward a new kind of
Poverty Row filmmaking, rough-edged, no-budget genre flicks targeted at African-American audiences and free of Hollywood requirements like "name" stars. DJ (Mack 10) is an L.A. banger and aspiring hip-hop producer who knows the legal way isn't for every man...at least, it's not for him. After his
mixing equipment catches fire, DJ and his gang decide to return to dope dealing to fund his career. DJ enlists the help of an unlikely ally: rival East Coast gang-leader and fellow wannabe producer Lonzo (Fat Joe), who's in town to escape the heat from a botched Bronx bank robbery. Recently burned
by a sleazy record exec, Lonzo also needs to make some money, so he and DJ hook up with New Orleans crime boss Gator (CJ Mac), who operates out of a heavily guarded, Hollywood Hills fortress. Deals go down, money starts flowing and the bond between DJ and Lonzo grows stronger, but old animosities
threaten to erupt into all-out gang war. The movie is an unrepentant player fantasy (DJ and Lonzo command respect and are plagued by a bevy of beautiful women) that owes plenty to NEW JACK CITY, John Singleton and Brian De Palma's SCARFACE. The drug use is heavy and the violence disturbingly
casual and unapologetic, but the film's belief in solidarity and ending violence through creative collaboration feel sincere. Obvious technical limitations aside, the film works, thanks in large part to some very funny dialogue from its supporting cast, a neat plot twist and one hilariously scary
turn by Tom'ya Bowden as an out-of-control gang-bang groupie who'd just as soon shoot the competition as fight.
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