Now out on DVD:
WELCOME TO DURHAM (Dir. Teddy Jacobs, 2006)
This film isn’t listed on the IMDB (hence the lack of linkage here) and apparently Netflix doesn’t have many copies because after weeks of it being in my queue they informed me that it wasn’t available at their local shipping center and had to be sent from Worcester, MA. Funny since it’s a local interest documentary. Despite reading negative reviews I was anxious to watch this film because I lived in Durham albeit briefly.
A very cheap production with harsh hissy sound and clumsy cuts, WELCOME TO DURHAM unfortunately dissolves from a history and social political lesson into hip-hop propaganda. Hard to understand interviews (a drinking game could be made out of all the times “y’know what I’m sayin’” is said) with gang members that show off their gun shot wounds as proudly as their tattoos dominate the overlong poorly structured narrative making for little balance.
Only one white person is interviewed, and he’s a cop. One segment segues from recording studio footage to interviews with senior residents at the Imperial Barber Shop in the Hayti district with voice over narration by Christopher "Play" Martin (from rap duo Kid N Play) guiding us - “while the young cats in the hood are pushing ghetto music, the older cats in the hood are wondering what went wrong.”
What’s wrong in this production is that the music from the preceding scene continues and the rap backing track detracts from the old timer’s facts and that’s just whacked! Sorry, all the free style in the film made me bust out that lame rhyme. An earnest effort is within and obviously Jacobs cares passionately about his subject but the implied premise that hip-hop can save Durham from itself is hardly convincing. Y’know what I’m sayin’?