Blacking Up explores tensions surrounding white participation in hip-hop. Popularly referred to by derogatory terms such as “wannabe” or “wigger,” the figure of the white person who identifies with hip-hop often invokes heated responses. For some, it is an example of cultural progress – a movement toward a color-blind America. For others, it is just another case of cultural theft and mockery – a repetition of a racist past.
Blacking Up will air on WSBE Rhode Island PBS on Wednesday, February 10 at 10 P.M., with re-broadcast on Friday the 12th at 2:30 A.M. WSBE Rhode Island PBS broadcasts over the air on digital 36.1 on Cox/Verizon/Full Channel 08, on Dish 7776, and on DirecTV 36; ComCast subscribers should check local listings for correct channel number.
One of the characters in the film is Paul “Sage” Francis, a hip-hop artist from Providence, Rhode Island. Francis is the owner/CEO of the independent hip-hop record label Strange Famous Records. He is also part of the contemporary spoken word movement, performing at poetry events and blurring the lines between poetry and hip-hop.
Also in the film:
Amiri Baraka (formerly Leroi Jones), author of more than 40 books of essays, poems, drama, and cultural history, and founder of The Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s.
Paul Mooney, comedian, actor and writer, who started his professional career as a writer for Richard Pryor.
Mooney also wrote for Red Foxx’s Sanford and Son and was head writer for the television shows Good Times and In Living Color. More recently, Mooney was both a writer and actor on Chappelle’s Show with David Chappelle.
Russell Simmons, co-founder Def Jam Recordings, a record label that was at the epicenter of hip-hop’s development into a widely popular genre in the 1980s and 90s.
Nelson George, author, screenwriter, television producer and cultural critic.
Chuck D., founding member and frontman for the rap group Public Enemy.
Greg Tate, cultural critic and long-time staff writer for The Village Voice, and has published writings on art, music, and culture appearing in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and The Nation.
Vanilla Ice (Robert Van Winkle), rapper best known for the song “Ice Ice Baby,” the first hip-hop single to top the Billboard charts.
Aesop Rock (Ian Bavitz), a Long Island-born MC signed to Manhattan-based label Definitive Jux.
M1 (Mutulu Olugbala), rapper, activist, author, and one half of the political hip-hop duo, Dead Prez.
Power (Oli Grant), manager of the Wu-Tang Clan since 1997 with Mitchell “Divine” Diggs.
For more information, visit the film's Web site or the Facebook Fan Page.