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Paper Chasers
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by Scott Weinberg

"A nationwide search for hip-hop's spwaning grounds."
4 stars

Ever wonder where that 'hot new hip-hop artist' lived three months before he hit it big? You think these guys just record three songs and send 'em on into David Geffen?? Hardly. Maxie Collier wondered this very thing, so he did the only logical thing: he got some backing and set out to make a documentary about 'grass-roots hip-hop'.

To those not 'down with the lingo', a Paper Chaser is quite simply someone looking to get paid. That's not to imply the effort lies in a get-rich-quick scheme; these aspiring musicians work their asses off! And for every one hip-hop superstar there are hundreds of talented nobodies who simply couldn't make it happen.

Paper Chasers bounds from Atlanta to New York to New Orleans to Washington DC (among a few other choice towns), the crew often flying by the seat of their collective pants and consistently scarmbling to find their next local contacts. Instead of simply presenting just their subject material, Maxie and his crew make up part of the drama. Paper Chasers is as much about down-home hip-hop as it is a documentarian road trip adventure.

One of the film's most enlightening segments involve an unknown performer called Ludacris who skyrocketed to superstardom virtually right in front of Collier's camera crew. When the now-world-famous singer recognizes Maxie from a few months earlier, there's a sincere and touching moment of "Hey, this guy supported me when I was a nobody and I owe him some time." I'm not sure if this sort of reciprocation is all that prevalent in the music industry, but it was a truly satisfying moment here.

Fans of the artistry of hip-hop music will find a whole lot to enjoy here, as Collier clearly has a lot of respect for his subject material. Paper Chasers also pays homage to trailblazers like Russell Simmons and Master P while keeping his eye firmly planted on where the next generation may be coming from.

If several of Collier's interview subjects seem to offer similar stories and advice, I suppose that's because there's a fairly reliable formula to worldwide success: years of grueling effort, talent honed to a professional edge, and a whole lot of luck.

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originally posted: 05/12/03 11:46:57
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/29/03 Elaine Smithson How to be a HIP HOP sucess this is great 5 stars
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Directed by
  Maxie Collier

Written by

  Fat Joe
  Russell Simmons
  James Brown
  Chuck D
  Damon Dash

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