Parents' Guide to

Rubble Kings

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Inspiring doc on hip-hop's roots has some violence, cursing.

Movie NR 2010 67 minutes
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Believed to have influenced the 1979 movie The Warriors, the attempts to bring peace amongst the warring street gangs of the South Bronx as shown in this documentary gave the world so much more. This documentary tells of how the violence of South Bronx street gangs circa 1971 and the senseless killing of a gang peacemaker led to a massive gang cease-fire that helped create the spaces and music that brought about the musical and cultural revolution that was hip-hop. Through archival footage and interviews, the culture and codes of the hundreds of street gangs running rampant throughout the Bronx and New York City is presented in vivid detail. The Ghetto Brothers, the peacemaking gang who brokered the cease fire and encouraged positive change through their musical group, get the credit they deserve.

It's a relatively little-known yet important chapter in history that, quite literally, changed the international cultural landscape. It could almost be viewed as a prequel to the documentary Fresh Dressed, which basically picks up where Rubble Kings leaves off. If there are any reservations to this documentary, it's that it goes a little too far and too long in talking about the war and violence, and not enough about what thrived after the hard-won peace. Nonetheless, it's a story that needs to be heard. And while it's a little strange to see former gang members from that time, much older and seeming to get a nostalgic twinkle in their eye for how things used to be, if there is nostalgia at work, it's because for all the crime, bankruptcy (both moral and fiscal), and general decay that defined New York City in the 1970s, both punk and hip-hop emerged from that place and time, cultural revolutions whose effects still resonate today.

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