In 1993 a movie titled CB4 starring Chris Rock was released. A parody of the “gangsta rap” phenomenon of the 90s it was met with mediocre reviews and went on to gross 17 million dollars domestically. A little over one year later another movie in the same vein appeared. Written, directed, and co-starring one Rusty Cundieff it was released to critical acclaim and went on to make a total of $238,000.00. In other words, like many good movies, no one saw it.
If you, dear reader, are one of the many who have not seen Fear of a Black Hat the FAM is giving you an opportunity right now to remedy this situation. Filmed in the mockumentary style popularized by Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap, Fear of a Black Hat treats its subject as a real entity; and the members of N.W.H. (Niggaz With Hats) — Ice Cold, Tasty Taste, and Tone Def — go about the business of being a headwear-centric rap trio as they normally would under the gaze of sociologist Nina Blackburn’s camera.
What ensues is an almost pitch-perfect satirical time capsule of early 90s hip-hop. References abound from the internal feuding of N.W.A., to the ubiquitous “Ice” moniker and the hippy weirdness of P.M Dawn. Cundieff manages to tick off an entire checklist of well-worn rap tropes with hilarious consistency. It’s a movie that never fails to make me laugh, no matter how many times I see it. Rather than running the risk of talking this film up too much, I will simply leave you with one of my favorite exchanges, in which the boys explain just what N.W.H. is all about:
Nina Blackburn: So, guys, what’s the deal with the hats?
Ice Cold: That’s what NWH is all about. We got a whole hat philosophy, you know what I’m saying? I mean, see, back in the days when there was slaves and stuff, they would work in the hot sun all day, you know, with the sun beating down them. Hatless. I mean, not even a babushka.
Tone Def: Word. Heads totally exposed to the sun.
Ice Cold: You know, so by the time they got back to the plantation from being in all the heat, they was too tired to rebel against their masters, right? So what we saying with Niggaz With Hats is, “Yo, we got some hats now, muh-fuckers.”