*”Big Words” is a tale of maturation for a group of gentlemen in their late 30s whose lives and music careers have failed to launch upon the trajectory they had hoped.
Once members of a rap group spawned during hip-hop’s golden age, DJ Malik, JayVee the Mac and Big Words are found circulating Planet Brooklyn in orbits that are mere degrees apart but never cross, until Election Night 2008.
Written and directed by Neil Drumming, “Big Words” opens with DJ Malik (Darien Sills-Evans) and his girlfriend Bree (Jean Grae) discussing a beat that propels a song by fictional rapper Shawn King. Malik is visibly, and comically, disturbed by the beat. He insists he produced a beat that was very similar to the one that is blaring on the radio during several scenes in the film. His disdain for modern Hip-Hop is palpable as well. Malik’s character was interesting for several reasons. He personifies the old school music lovers’ utter contempt for many modern rappers yet he himself, being in a position to create new music, does not create an alternative. He simply complains about the perceived genre while failing to contribute to its growth.
James aka JayVee the Mac (Gbenga Akinnagbe) represents an enigma wrapped in a taboo as far as hip-hop is concerned. As an MC he represented the pimp/mack rapper. The guy whose rhymes are all about women in abundance. However, 20 years later the viewer finds him as a pubic relations executive for a book publisher and an openly gay black man living with his boyfriend in their Brooklyn brownstone. There is definitely a group of well-known current or former rappers who would be considered gay in real life if we were to simply go by statistical probability. But, unlike the film, we don’t have any insight into their reality because the idea of the masculine rapper cannot be reconciled with homosexuality in the real world. Gbenga Akinnagbe’s portrayal of this character might be the most interesting of all the performances in the film. He is tough-minded, straight-shooting and outspoken. He just happens to be gay.
“Big Words” is written in a manner that foreshadows the revelation of a secret which caused the group to break up. While watching the film I initially thought the secret had something to do with JayVee’s homosexuality, but it soon became clear that it was not. I was glad it didn’t. That would have been too easy and cop out to a certain extent. JayVee cannot seem to personally reconcile his Hip-Hop past with his current life as an openly gay man, and at times is visibly torn in making a conscious effort to avoid his past.
John aka Big Words (Dorian Missick) is at first somewhat mysterious. His opening scene finds him in a strip club drinking a beer, but he is clearly not titillated. The beer and the flesh seem to be cooping mechanisms, but cooping with what? He runs into Annie (Yaya Alafia) and the two embark on a mission to locate a microphone for the aspiring singer. Annie, though she is a stripper, is energetic, warm and appears to be exactly what Big Words is missing in his life. She is “a down ass chick.”
Big Words, on the other hand, is found constantly sulking and forever pessimistic. Once a man of big dreams and ambition, he appears to have a storm cloud raining down negative energy upon his head. For him, there are no happy endings. In his head, there is no reason to dream, no reason to aspire because disappointment is inevitable. His character represents but one thread of the many that compose the overall tapestry of the modern black male. Disappointment has become such a part of his life that it becomes as static between radio stations, it’s always there. But, as is the case in reality, there is always hope. There’s always tomorrow, but first we have to forgive ourselves.
Neil Drumming did a very good job writing and directing this dramedy (drama/comedy) and I feel as though each character gives genuine insight into the mindset of the modern black male. This film is interesting, unexpected and is as original as it gets. Definitely worth a watch. “Big Words” premiered on July 19 and is yet another quality offering being distributed by AAFRM (African American Film Release Movement).