The Indie Fest USA International Film Festival’s Audience Impact Award winning documentary “Player Hating: A Love Story” had a well-received theatrical debut in the Spring. I managed to score an advance peak at the film for my Birthplace Magazine review and am reminding those who may not have had the chance to see the movie in theaters, that it is available On Demand, to download and on DVD.
In preparation for a soon-to-be-posted interview that has been a long time coming, I attempted to write an In a Nutshell review of this documentary but after two revisions, it still clocks out at way over my minimum word count -- placing it among the growing Extended movie review files. Here are the results.
“Player Hating: A Love Story” is a documentary chronicling the weeks leading up to a Brooklyn-bred hip-hop artist’s first major album release. Live concerts and in-store appearances are a mere backdrop to what lies behind those microphones, hard beats and brutal lyrics. Rapper Half-a-Mill and his Godfia Criminals give filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West an all-access pass into their daily grind of passion, fears, motivation and struggle to navigate the treacherous neighborhood that seems to breed violence, poverty and despair.
Judgment of these men and their associates may come easy within the first few scenes -- even going so far as to condemn them for the choices they make. After all, what man in his right mind would drive around in a car laced with bullet holes as his infant child sits in the passenger seat? It doesn’t take long, however, to get wrapped up in the lives of the few who dream of better possibilities outside of the dire circumstances they face every day.
From the blunt stairwell interviews in the housing projects to street fights and tragic hospital visits, “Player Hating: A Love Story” shows a genuine connection with Half-a-Mill and his crew while championing their efforts to change the course of what seems like an inevitable fate of either imprisonment or death.
It’s not that hard to like them or maybe also grow to understand them, even if you don’t relate to them.
All of their hopes and dreams of escaping this assumed destiny rides on the back of one man’s music career. Having the weight of the Crown Heights neighborhood on his shoulders does not deter Half-a-Mill’s unstoppable and passionate quest to create a better life for his family -- maybe even going so far as to buy an ocean.
In an environment that thrives on gangs, drugs, broken families and unemployment, Half-a-Mill is often reminded that all of the talent, record deals and drive in the world may not be enough when he is surrounded by more people who will do whatever it takes to sabotage his progress -- people who want him to fail because he has the audacity to try.
Yet, he prevails in his journey while viewers watch in support of this 26 year-old man’s tenacity for music, money, fame and most importantly, safety -- hoping that he can make it there in one piece.
In a Nutshell - “Player Hating: A Love Story” is about more than music and screaming fans who wait in line for autographs. It does not feature corporate-backed and manufactured gangstas who brag about all of the marijuana they smoke in the expensive cars that they drive on exotic lands where they go through women like we go through soap. This is the kind of movie that you probably wouldn’t find on MTV, BET or related “music” channels unless a censored version is released. All in all, I think it’s well worth watching.
Have YOU ever experienced player hating in your life? If so, how did YOU handle it?
What is the most recent Hip-Hop themed movie that YOU watched?