The selling point to The Otherside — a project from filmmakers operating under the moniker M.A.D. Northwest — seems to be that speedskating Olympian JR Celski, aka Celskeet, is involved. Which is cool and all, but do we really want our Olympians making our hip-hop documentaries? From the brief glimpse of the video trailer for the project, the answer is, um, maybe.
The cast is certainly right — footage of Jake One, Blue Scholars, Macklemore, Spaceman, RA Scion and Fresh Espresso hint at a well-rounded collection of the current kings of the 206 — and the footage the group has captured so far looks well-done. But, where, one has to wonder, is this story going to go? In this Kickstarter trailer created to raise $15,000 for the project, Celski recalls one of his great moments in Northwest hip-hop: “Mad Rad got up there with thirty of their friends and sang a song that goes, ‘I love my friends,’ and they sang that for three minutes straight,” he says. “That kind of inspiration and that kind of music could change the world.”
I’m sure it was an uplifting moment for Celski, but for the unconverted hip-hop fan who has yet to give Seattle its due respect, I’m pretty sure it sounds just a tad masturbatory and boring. That said, the written description of the project offers a much more promising path:
See the other “not so glamorous” side of artists lives as we follow them into their homes, studios, backstage, and on national tours. Experience everything from the daily struggles and obstacles, to the triumphs and successes these artists face as they reach for stardom. The film touches on various hip hop stereotypes including race, community, drug addiction, and sexism. The diverse list of talent in Seattle will allow you to feel connected to hip hop in a way you’ve never felt before..
If Celski and Co. can strike the balance between celebration and exploration, this could just be the great hip-hop film the scene needs.
For true 206 supporters, we suggest giving at the $150 level to receive two tickets to the Seattle premier of the film. If it’s great, it will be a night to remember. If it sucks, Celski will likely be there and you can share your thoughts. All others might consider giving at the $10 level. They’ll put your name on the film’s Web site, which will give you bragging rights if the movie hits its mark. And if it doesn’t; well, it’s just your name on a Web site. No big deal.