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Wednesday, April 1, 1998

Ride

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Here's a bit of unabashed hip-hop zeal for ya. Any film starring Snoop Doggy Dogg, Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr of the rap group Onyx, Luther Campbell and the Lady of Rage can't be half bad.

To top all of this off, Ride's writer and director, Millicent Shelton, is an African-American woman. Shelton graduates from the music video realm to the cinema with this debut that's charged with the creative force of the hip-hop subculture.

Leta (Melissa De Sousa) is an aspiring director just out of film school (and an obvious stand-in for Shelton herself) who is interning for music video poobah Bleau Kelly (a magnificently bitchy Downtown Julie Brown). Leta's first duty to Bleau is to escort a party of young black talents by bus from Harlem to Miami. Waiting there for the kids is a video shoot featuring rap dictator Freddy B (a shoddy Luther Campbell, playing himself to perfection). The shoot, and ostensibly success, are theirs if the rappers, singers and model (a pert Idalis De Leon) can make the trip on the rickety bus without hurting each other or getting hurt by pursuing gangstas Bird (Dartanyan Edmonds) and Peaches (the Lady of Rage), whom rogue Geronimo (Fredro Starr) has taken for some stick-up cash.

With a simple hip-hop road movie concept, the former music video director Shelton tells an amusing story that's just as kinetic as its musical influence. Shelton's closeness to the subject matter and her gentle feminism aid her considerably. Rage's gangsta bitch Peaches is so bad she can pee while standing up.

The film's funniest scene occurs at a stop-off where the youths get their gig on, until Geronimo bumps troublemaker Mente (Snoop Dogg), and a fight precedes a harsh round of the dozens. Shelton's framing of the pencil-thin Snoop as ruffian deconstructs his posturing to an absurdist point.

Subtly subversive, cleverly uplifting and very amusing, Ride is Shelton's acid-penned love letter to the hip-hop nation. To quote rap god Rakim's classic words, "This is how it should be done."

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