Hollywood parking lots are overpriced, especially considering the 10-20 bucks you shell out will get you a big dent in the door, or worse. Last night, in the parking lot of art gallery Studio 1636 off Wilcox and Hollywood, word spread fast that Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon and entourage weren't down with that, refusing to pay. The attendants might have grumbled about towing cars, etc. but the matter was resolved promptly - because really, who wants to argue with Wu-Tang?
Raekwon and his crew had dropped in to screen a preview of the upcoming Raekwon documentary as part of "Throwing Bones," Thursday night's line-up for the Engine Collision Fest, an 11-day art and film festival directed by L.A.-based filmmaker Burke Roberts and his underground film militia, the Bizzurke Army. Inside the gallery, rapper Rock i.e. Mountain Myth and spoken word maestro Bob the Butcher of Bliss were finishing their set to an already packed room when the new arrivals filtered in, grabbing Coronas and wine from the bar before scouring the gallery for a seat.
Directed by Stephan Malik and produced by "Big Mike" Vaysman, the Raekwon documentary explores the life and career of the influential rapper via interviews with friends and fellow musicians, music videos, rare performance footage and an intimate look at his persona through a lens other than celebrity. Malik told L.A. Weekly that the short-length documentary is still in progress but will accompany the release of Raekwon's highly anticipated new album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, out later this month. Malik also revealed that the doc will eventually become a full-length feature.
Following the hour-long screening, Malik and Vaysman stood before the crowd, welcoming Raekwon to the mic to get his take on the film. Flashbulbs instantly went off, camera phones were immediately set to video, and those lucky enough to get in to the intimate viewing party welcomed Raekwon with resounding applause. He made his way through the crowd, paying his his respects to his director, producer and the friends and fans filling the room. "I love y'all," Raekwon said, beaming. "Hip-hop saved my life because I came from a place where nobody made it. At the end of the day, I bumped into this rap shit so I'm always going to pay respect ... I've never had a job; I grew up selling crack ... once hip-hop came into my life it made me more humble and gracious ... you guys helped me really establish myself. I am honored. Thank you."
Later outside during an on-camera interview with the Engine Collision Fest staff, Raekwon shared his words of wisdom on making it through the recession and making it as an artist, period: "You've got to work like a slave to eat like a king ... Success comes from helping people. At the end of the day, it's about you going after your dreams and working hard ... Love yourself, believe in yourself, believe in your art... L.A. is there for me. This is the mecca of entertainment. You have places like this that let us show the film. I love The Engine. I love the layout of the gallery. There are so many multi-talented people in the crowd. I look at it as a legendary spot."
A legendary spot, with very expensive parking.
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For a schedule of upcoming Engine Collision Fest screenings and performances, check enginecollisionfest.com.