Black History, Music, Review

Above The Rim Is Still Ballin’

Above The Rim’s 20th Anniversary

Above The Rim

I cannot believe it has been 20 years since Above The Rim exploded on the big screens in the spring of 1994. It is one of my beloved basketball films ever right along with He Got Game, White Man Can’t Jump, and Space Jam. Above The Rim stars Tupac Shakur, Duane Martin, Marlon Wayans, Leon Robinson, Wood Harris, and Bernie Mac. Street legend Kirkland Pee Wee makes a cameo in the film.

Above The Rim tells the tale of a talented high school basketball star from Harlem named Kyle Watson (Duane Martin) who finds himself in a difficult dilemma over a streetball tournament. He must decide whether to play for his basketball coach, Rollins (David Bailey), or Birdie (Tupac Shakur), a local murderous basketball scout for the Shootout Tournament. The romance between his mother and basketball legend turned high school security guard Thomas Shepherd (Leon Robinson) is another distraction he is dealing with. Kyle is hoping he receives a scholarship to Georgetown University to escape the madness of the streets.

Above The Rim merges streetball, hip-hop music, and fashion brilliantly. The energy and excitement of the basketball scenes are very much like tournament games played at Rucker Park. The music complements the scenes very well making them look like music videos. Tupac Shakur helped usher in thug glamour. His bandannas coordinate with his every outfit, neatly folded and meticulously pressed.

My favorite character in Above The Rim is Birdie. He was one of the most villainous dudes ever. I loved Tupac Shakur as Birdie. He gives the movie a charge of excitement and danger. The bravado Birdie exudes on the big screen is effortless and appealing. He murders Flip (Bernie Mac) with no remorse with a razor, which was crazy. Birdie’s signature moment in the film is when he blows a razor blade through his lips without cutting himself and says, “It’s funny what you do pick up, though.” And walks off laughing into the night.

Twenty years later, Above The Rim has become a cult classic to the hip-hop generation. Rap star Young Jeezy’s based his 2011 music video “Ballin’” on the film. The star power of Above The Rim continues to attract an audience in today’s era. Above The Rim’s ongoing appeal is a testament on the impact the film had on pop culture.

By Shamarie Knight, 30th Jul 2014


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