G-Funk

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
G-Funk Movie Poster Image
Excellent docu about West Coast hip-hop; cursing, drugs.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 87 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Documentary shows how talent combined with persistence led to the rise of the careers of Snoop Dogg, Warren G., and the other artists who put West Coast hip-hop on the international map in the 1990s. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

With help from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Warren G., and Nate Dogg made a conscious decision to avoid the crime and drugs that plagued their community in favor of creating timeless music. 

Violence

News footage of dead bodies on the streets, the LA Riots, the Rodney King beating. Talk of the shooting deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. 

Sex
Language

"F--k" and "motherf----r" frequently used. "N" word frequently used. "S--t," "c--ksuckers," "bitch/beeyotch." 

Consumerism

Discussions of the music business, of Death Row Records, Def Jam, Bad Boy, and their rivalries. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Marijuana smoking throughout. Some booze drinking. Talk of crack cocaine and cocaine use. News footage of the "War on Drugs"-- stock footage showing cocaine, police raiding the homes of suspected drug dealers. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that G-Funk is a 2018 documentary about the origins of 1990s West Coast hip-hop and the careers and lasting influence of Snoop Dogg, Warren G., and many other artists. Marijuana smoking is prevalent throughout -- shown in old footage and discussed. "F--k" and its variations are frequently used, as well as the "N" word. Some violence is seen -- stock footage of the LA Riots, the Rodney King beating, dead bodies on the streets -- and there's talk of the crack cocaine epidemic, the increase in cocaine use, and the "War on Drugs." For music fans of any genre, this is a fantastic documentary that traces the origins of G-Funk, its meteoric rise in the 1990s, and its lasting influence, from its humble origins in Long Beach to the entire world. 

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What's the story?

G-FUNK chronicles the origins, rise, and lasting influence of 1990s West Coat hip-hop. The term "G-funk" refers to gangsta funk, a subgenre of hip-hop music that emerged from West Coast rap, heavily influenced by 1970s funk artists such as Marvin Gaye and Parliament-Funkadelic. Through interviews and archival footage, seminal and successful performers from that era -- including Snoop Dogg and Warren G. -- discuss how the West Coast style developed, how it was different from what grew out of New York City, and the meteoric rise of their careers in the aftermath of the now classic Dr. Dre album The Chronic. G-Funk explores the iconic musical movement and how it continues to influence the musicians of today. 

Is it any good?

Whether or not you're a fan of hip-hop and its rich history, you'll appreciate how this documentary traces the origins of this artistic movement. But if you love music, you'll love G-Funk. All interviewed parties freely acknowledge how the music they grew up listening to as kids in the '70s led to the music they made in the '90s, and how none of it came out of a vacuum, but was instead an original twist on their influences. And at the end of the movie, coming full circle, Snoop Dogg and Warren G. talk of how the performers today tell them how they grew up listening to their music as kids in the '90s. 

The historical context, the rough neighborhoods the artists grew up in, and the reactionary politics of the 1980s are also explained; it's easy to see how these influences also informed the music. Interviews with Chuck D., Russell Simmons, Ice-T, Deion Sanders, among others, go far in explaining just how original, exciting, and timeless the music that came out of G-Funk has proven to be. And place is given a lot of consideration -- how the frenzy of NYC urban life and the disco of the 1970s had an impact on the beats and style of the hip-hop that came out of there, and how the climate, driving culture, and funk of the '70s had an impact on the hip-hop that came out of Southern California. It's as informative and entertaining as you would want a music documentary to be. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about music documentaries. How does G-Funk compare to other music documentaries you've seen? 

  • What did you learn in terms of how the music and culture of a location influenced the music of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Warren G., Nate Dogg, and all who were involved with G-Funk? How was this music and culture shown to be a contrast to what happened in New York City hip-hop? 

  • An interviewee says that the crime and drug epidemics in the 1980s were a direct result of the federal government cutting after-school programs for kids and teens. Does that sound right to you? Why or why not? 

Movie details

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