Clogged Caps 3 puts SA hip-hop on the cinematic map
When it comes to hip-hop cinema, the holy trinity usually consists of Charlie Ahearn's Wild Style, the seminal documentary Style Wars, and John Singleton's much imitated Boyz N the Hood. Boasting a bangin' soundtrack, vibrant images, and relentless editing, the newly released Clogged Caps 3 The Movie brazenly puts San Anto hip-hop on the cinematic map.
Clocking in at 66 minutes, the music-driven documentary chronicles the three-day 2003 Clogged Caps aerosol art festival organized by the LAWS crew and Prhymemates collective. After producing three editions of their notorious Reset magazine, Haldun, Roy Garza, Alan Wolfe, and Mitch Smith have stepped up to produce one of the most solid docs to come out of SA in the last several years. Shot on digital video with a nonexistent budget, the film overflows with crisp photos and memorable sequences that set ground rules for respectable graff writing, showcase lady liberty with a new look, and reveal the backgrounds of specific interviewees within the hip-hop community. Particularly effective is a screwed-out look into nocturnal freight bombing which gives the film a sly, distinctively Texas vibe.
For Scuba Gooding Sr., the Prhymemates front man and the film's ad-hoc producer, Clogged Caps 3 effectively captures the spirit of San Antonio's hip-hop community: "If you can compare it to anything, if anything would do it any justice it would be kind of a cross between the Style Wars documentary and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.
"Basically, the end story was about the community coming together and doing something for the community that's gonna just be something good that they can look back on and be proud of. That's kind of what Clogged Caps was in a nutshell."
Current: What role did the music play throughout the production?
Roy Garza: Just through watching the film, I hope people do realize how big a role the music does play, because that's how we put it together. Basically, anytime we put down a segment, for the most part, we put the music down first. A lot of the editing is done through the music. Being a graffiti film, the music does carry more weight because it's all a part of the hip-hop culture. To steal a line from Cros in the movie, "it all has a certain style. If you look at the graffiti, if you look at a b-boy break-dancing, if you listen to an emcee flowing, it all has a certain rhythm and pattern that kind of carries you with it that makes you want to pay attention to it."
Current: Was it difficult covering a subject as controversial as graffiti?
Haldun: The message of the movie is that it's an art form that's been criminalized. Some people will go as far as to say vandalism is violent and that's bullshit. In the times that we're living in right now, people over in New York, if they get busted bombing something, they're going to jail. And they're not just going to petty jail, they're gonna serve some time in county.
It's really taking an element of expression and criminalizing it to serve this behavior of ownership and property rights. To criminalize that kind of expression is turning back the evolution of people as artists and as beings able to express themselves through art and that's criminal. It's ridiculous and I think that's what really turned us on, this whole idea of doing a documentary on graffiti.
Current: What was the process like, going from Reset magazine to an hour-long doc?
Current: What do you hope that people take away from this film?
Haldun: The revolution is here. Everybody grab a camera and let's start communicating with one another, that's really what it's all about. You have three guys who don't have shit, they don't have a car, they don't have a stable residence, they don't hold a steady job, the passion is "let's do this." You have three guys, with not much, who are sacrificing whatever they have and squatting wherever they are to put whatever little they do have into equipment or energy. This is something that just happened recently.
It's been worked on for about a year-and-a-half and is the first feature-length documentary for all of us. We wanted to make sure we did it right. The digital revolution is here. It's time to get a camera and learn some skills. That's what the movie's about too. They're talking about graffiti artists in the movie like "if you got the skills, let's get to it and let's go down to the walls and see what you got." And it's only going to get better from here because the more time, the more energy, the more passion you put into it the better it does become; not just for you, but the quality of the work that you're doing. We laid the foundation with Reset and we're trying to build off of that. •
By M. Solis