By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Ironically, as a result of their you-come-to-meapproach, they’re more likely to get the crossover crowd. They’ve already won a cult following that includes producer/director Reggie Hudlin, Cedric the Entertainer, director John Singleton and producer Stan Lathan. Though reluctant to discuss specifics, they say a deal for a DVD compilation of their films is in the works. (They’re also in postproduction on a new short, Coon-free America.) They’ve formed a partnership with artist-manager-turned-film-producer, Paul Stewart, who’s been in the entertainment industry for 15 years, having discovered and worked with artists such as Pharcyde, Warren G. and Coolio, and who supervised the music on the films Poetic Justice, Men of Honor, Barbershop and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Now dubbed the fourth member of PSTOLA, Stewart wears the hats of co-producer/PR rep/manager.
“Their work struck me as something totally fresh, street-savvy but super intelligent. Our plans are to take the Hollywood spots previously held by bamboozled filmmakers. We want to do features and TV, and plan to take advantage of the straight-to-DVD market as well. I see PSTOLA carving out their own niche, much the way the Coen brothers, Kevin Smith and Christopher Guest have.”
As the interview winds down, there’s a knock on Jason’s front door. It’s his neighbor and childhood chum, Nikki, armed with a pitcher of margaritas. Kisses all around because it’s her birfday, and they give a fuck ’cause it really is her birfday.
“Y’all just go on with your interview,” smiles Nikki, sitting on a corner of the bed and proceeding to pour the drinks. Her arrival, and the goodies she’s brought, set the mood and stage for an impromptu example of a PSTOLA creative session at work.
Relaxed, Jason begins to reminisce about the days when there were real-life white people in the neighborhood, when kids could safely gather in the park a few blocks away from his home and it was a breeze to walk from his house to the local convenience market. “But I woke up one morning and there were so many muthafuckas dressed in red, it looked like the cover of the ‰ first Ice Cube album.”
He and Nikki chuckle and shake their heads incredulously over a childhood friend who turned to gangbanging with the claim that he had no choice. “Nigga, get a job!” yells Jason, who then goes on to detail the browning of the “black” neighborhood. “Man, I was at the basketball court one day and these Training Day eses roll up, pushing one homeboy in a wheelchair — and his ass was clutching a prison basketball — and I’m standing there like, ‘Okay, how long can I stand here shooting hoops before I break, without my ass looking like a punk?’ ”
“See,” interjects Dre, “that’s why I live in Culver City.”
The room cracks up.
“The thing that I love about Dre,” laughs Jason, “is that he’s a snob.”
“Hella snob,” interjects Deon.
“Yes,” concedes Dre, “I’m hella snob. Once the rappers discover something and start rapping about it, I move on. No more Grey Goose for me ’cause I’ve heard too many references to it in rhymes.”
A distant pop-pop-pop sends Jason riffing on Halloween and New Year’s Eve celebrations in his once quiet neighborhood. “Man, niggas be firing off M-80s and shit, and no I am not exaggerating for effect. Real M-80s. And that shit starts, like in June — Happy Fourth of July! That shit would not pop in a white neighborhood. Cops go on vacation and shit around here. Just straight pull out and don’t look back.”
“Culver Ciiiiiity,” sings Dre, invoking laughter.
“Yeah,” nods Deon sagely, “but is [living in Culver City] worth getting your ass pulled over by the cops every five minutes?”
“Why yes, son,” replies Dre in a nasal, over-enunciated delivery, “I think it is.”
Dropping the Oreo inflections and sliding into educated Negro modulations, he adds, “The trick is to not be angry when you’re pulled over, but to be deeply hurt. Like white people.” The room roars in laughter, and he continues. “You gotta act like you’re just disappointed that they would even think to pull you over. But never angry, never belligerent.”
“You gotta act like you Tom Bradley’s nephew,” pipes in Nikki, “like you might have read a book in your life and might actually know something about your rights.” Deon slaps his hands together and folds over in laughter.
Someone turns on the radio, and an oldies station is playing the Spinners’ “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love?” I mention how much I love PSTOLA’s skewering of the cult of Tupac in Profile of a Jank. What they’ve done is nothing short of sacrilege against the black Elvis, a figure who’s been refined and honed by death into saint status, with all controversy and dissent shorn away.
“Now, I think what Tupac did was to make [the word] ‘thug’ the new ‘nigger,’” replies Jason, “where he just took that word and made it symbolize everybody who’s disenfranchised, who has been pushed to the margins and feels like they ain’t got a voice or they don’t have any choices.” He pauses. “I mighta been able to get wit that if it had come from somebody other than Tupac, but I wasn’t trying to look like I was riding that nigga’s nuts,” he laughs. “I ain’t a fan.”