BLACK AND WHITE
was inspired by the volatile subject matter of "Black and White" --
the combustible mix of actors and non-actors, the spontaneous nature of such a
large, diverse cast, and the general sense that anything could happen when you
film in the streets of New York. "It adds an air of authenticity that is
impossible to fake," he says.
"It's urban New York, and it's real," says Kim Matulova, whose
favorite scene was the conversation among the high school kids, Brooke Shields
and Robert Downey Jr. in Central Park. "It was cold, it was late and we
were in Central Park shooting until six a.m." she remembers. "But we
were really putting our feelings into it, it felt so natural and real, all of us
just talking freely about everything."
Authenticity also was an issue for New York natives Wu-Tang Clan. Method Man,
Power, Raekwon (all of whom appear in the film), Inspectah Deck and other
Wu-Tang members painted a mural in 1994 on a wall in Staten Island's Park Hill
Projects. There's not a graffiti artist in town who would tag over this monument
to hip-hop; however, the Wu intended to repaint the mural for its appearance in
the film, but later decided against it. This artwork, first done to promote
Wu-Tang's video "Can It Be All So Simple?" appears in the scene when
Sam and Terry invite themselves to follow the rappers to "the wall."
Brett Ratner, who directed last year's huge hit "Rush Hour,"
appears as himself in front of the mural, in a scene where he must convince the
black hip-hop artists to let him direct their music video despite the fact that
he's white. "Hey, I'm white and I'm from Miami, but I love your music and I
understand what you're about," he tells Rich Bower (Power) and Cigar (Raekwon).
"He's going to Hollywood-ize it for us," Rich explains to a
Long before Lauryn Hill made the cover of Time and UPN aired the
Source Hip Hop Music Awards, hip hop had arrived in the American consciousness
as a powerful musical and cultural force, the voice of a generation. What
started as a new musical style homegrown at Bronx street parties has evolved
into a billion dollar industry -- with every company from Tommy Hilfiger to Coke
clamoring to get on board.
"With hip hop, there's a real connection going on as never before in
American history," says Toback. "All the other cultural art forms -
even Jazz and R&B - nothing has approached the pervasive revolution that hip
hop is affecting. It is an across the board influence."
As rapper Mos Def says, "When you were younger, man, you felt so
isolated listening to hip hop like it didn't have any history. Now it's like the
grandson, the child of all these different forms of music and style and
expression. It's like I'm attached to something that was great before I even
thought about it."
At the film's core is the spirit of this generation, be who you are and be
unafraid. "The hip hop culture has room in its sensibility for other
cultures," says Toback. "That was a real revelation to me." As
Raekwon's character Cigar, comments, "Ain't nobody can control hip hop. You
got your morals and your common sense. It's all about finding the talent in
yourself. Don't be afraid."
It's a message that resonates across cultural lines. In fact, in 1998, 70% of
hip hop albums were purchased by white consumers. And thanks<
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