So far as titles go, you possibly can’t accuse Jeremy Elkin’s “All the Streets Are Silent: The Convergence of Hip-Hop and Skateboarding (1987-1997)” of false promoting. Tracing the 2 youth cultures as they dance round each other and at last intersect on the streets of New York Metropolis all through the last decade, the director gathers an astonishing quantity of classic footage, and finds no scarcity of deep veins to faucet. And but, regardless of its doctoral dissertation-style title, “All of the Streets Are Silent” lacks a thesis: much less a sociological research of the rapper-skater convergence than a celebration of a really particular kind of man in a really particular fragment of house and time. On this case, the type of younger one who felt most at dwelling roaming the streets of Dinkins-era Manhattan with solely a board and a boombox for firm.
And one may argue that that kind of man, now older, can also be this documentary’s audience, because the movie makes solely passing makes an attempt to elucidate or contextualize its dizzying whirl of names, locations and allusions all through a really busy 89-minute runtime. We study concerning the creation of the nightclub Mars, the origins of “The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Present,” the early days of Zoo York, and the ways in which the encroachment of the mainstream – whether or not it’s Larry Clark’s movie “Youngsters” or all the globalized streetwear trade – each immortalized and commodified the sense of freedom that these skaters, DJs, rappers and hangers-on had been as soon as in a position to take pleasure in in a much less buttoned-down New York. However a viewer coming into the movie who isn’t already nicely conscious of the abovementioned may discover themselves a bit misplaced, and a powerful sense of “I suppose you needed to be there” could maintain the movie at arm’s-length for outsiders.
That stated, you possibly can’t say the movie doesn’t make you would like you had been, in reality, there. For anybody with even a passing curiosity in ‘90s hip-hop and its related satellite tv for pc cultures, some the archival footage contained on this movie is genuinely exceptional. Right here’s a strikingly younger Jay-Z rapping cleanup for Jaz-O on a tiny membership stage. Right here’s a then-unknown Busta Rhymes displaying up uninvited to a school radio station and kicking a freestyle which incorporates traces he would finally incorporate into his verse on “Situation.” Right here’s a glimpse of the scene at Supreme again when it was only a native skate store. For individuals who solely know these folks and establishments by means of their later, extra polished incarnations, these snapshots of their humbler origins are unexpectedly poignant.
Along with the archival footage – a lot of it supplied by nightlife entrepreneur Yuki Watanabe and Zoo York co-founder Eli Morgan Gesner, who additionally serves as narrator – Elkin gathers a formidable vary of present-day interviews, from actress Rosario Dawson and late skateboarder Keith Hufnagel to Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels and the always-insightful DJ and producer Clark Kent. However its development can typically be complicated, shifting from scene to scene with out offering the correct framing for what every of them meant. There are lengthy stretches the place the importance of New York skate tradition inside the extra clearly vital context of hip-hop isn’t solely clear, and one needs the movie took just a little extra time to unpack the racial and gender dynamics on show in these collisions. (There are vanishingly few ladies to be seen right here, with Dawson the one feminine interviewee to get substantial screentime.)
With so many voices and faces passing by means of the movie, it isn’t till in a while that it appears to seek out its middle within the determine of the late Harold Hunter. Explosively humorous, unbridled in his enthusiasm, and ever prepared to carry out for anybody with a video digicam, the younger skater gained worldwide fame when he was forged in “Youngsters.” But inside the native scenes depicted right here, he appeared to know nearly everybody already, and his drug-related demise on the age of 31 appears to place a somber finish punctuation on a subculture whose flame had lengthy since been dampened by gentrification and cooption by company pursuits.
As a too-brief epilogue reminds us, hip-hop is now the dominant type of fashionable music, and skateboarding is now an Olympic sport. But it surely wasn’t so way back that each had been shuttled in the direction of the margins by varied gatekeepers, and the truth that these two disrespected youth cultures as soon as discovered frequent floor of their shared playground of New York Metropolis is probably not so stunning. As for what they in the end meant to one another, and what their parallel trajectories can train us concerning the battle to protect natural road cultures within the face of the bigger forces that search to strip-mine them, “All of the Streets Are Silent” hardly ever slows down lengthy sufficient to ponder.
https://selection.com/2021/movie/reviews/all-the-streets-are-silent-the-convergence-of-hip-hop-and-skateboarding-1987-1997-film-review-1235031832/ | ‘All of the Streets Are Silent’ Movie Review