If you think the title of this DVD sounds like a struggling foreigner's attempt to describe his trip to New York City during the formative years of a cultural revolution, you would be pretty much spot on in your assessment. Filmed in New York City in 1986, 'Big Fun in the Big Town' chronicles the emerging cultural movement called 'hip-hop', through the lens of an upstart Dutch filmmaker named Bram Van Splunteren. Armed with nothing more than a camera crew and vague understanding of the English language, Van Splunteren's fearless excursion into the world of American hip hop led him to the gritty landscapes of Harlem, South Bronx, and the Lower East Side during the peak years of the 1980s crack epidemic. As many would come to learn, this backdrop proved to be the incubator to what became a breeding ground for hip hop pioneers. Van Splunteren happened to be in the right place at the right time. Putting his own personal safety at risk, Van Splunteren's travelled to remote locations in neighborhoods where no foreigners or outsiders were normally allowed. There he managed to capture the essence of that time and place, while also managing to attain interviews and footage with rap heavyweights and emerging artists many now refer to as legends. The amazing scenes contained herein will blow the minds of any self respecting fan of rap music; a 17 year old LL Cool J greeting Van Splunteren from the door step of his grandmother's apartment (where he still lived), the Mystery Crew out of Chicago who happened to be trying to snag a meeting with Russell Simmons outside the small first offices of Def Jam on the same day Van Splunteren happened to be interviewing him, DMC freestyling to and unreleased beat on the cassette deck of his brand new and first Cadillac, a still skinny Biz Markie beatboxing for Roxanne Shante on stage - Van Splunteren managed to capture so many incredible moments in hip hop history and really encapsulated the era perfectly. Amazingly, the film that captured the New York rap scene during its most vital moments never received a proper debut in the city until almost 25 years after it premiered. That changed in 2002 when Dutch magazine Vara Gids named Big Fun as one of the top ten hip-hop films of all-time. The film was shown at the Maysles Film Institute in Harlem in 2010 with Van Splunteren in attendance along with a handful of hip hop luminaries. And now, Five Day Weekend has secured the rights to issue this documentary for the first time ever to American audiences in a physical format. Big Fun In The Big Town is a must own documentary for any true rap historian, and a window into a time and place many of us can now only learn about through study. Travel back to where it all began and relive the inspiring struggle of hip hop music all over again.
Cut to five little kids sitting on a nearby stoop just beatboxing their faces off until suppertime. One in particular can't resist the f*rt snare. An old timer across the street doesn't know what to make of it all, but he's happy to defer to the next generation of local celebrity upstarts. These intermittent unknowns lend the film an unabashed sincerity that keeps it from feeling too staged. While the leader of the CBS Crew talks about shooing crack dealers out of their LES neighborhood (in his Pat Summerall hat), a bystander who appears to have lifted Scorsese's eyebrows grins in the background. We'll never know what became of either. Big Fun's Dutch interviewer, Marcel Vanthilt, has his moments too, asking LL about his ''tender love raps.'' LL: ''Why would a kid pay for a ticket to hear how bad life is?'' Next question: Where has this thing been? --Pitchfork