Friday Afternoon Movie: Fear Of A Black Hat

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.”

5 Responses to “Friday Afternoon Movie: Fear Of A Black Hat”

  1. Tequila Says:

    Wow, never thought I’d see this underrated cult classic pop up on Coilhouse. Your taste in cinema continues to impress, oh madman Ross.

    I loooooooooove this film. I saw it on IFC ages ago and was sore from laughing halfway through. While it’s funnier if you know the references they lampoon, it stands well even without knowing as so much of it is still around in some variation. The little lines always get me, can’t help laughing at them no matter how many times I watch it. Love the scene when they meet with the record producer after Guerillas in the Midst. That scene alone is worth seeing the film for.

    It even works as a pretty good time capsule of the era since the attention to detail from the clothes to music production was dead on. The DVD is worth hunting down since it has great added features like the music videos, cut scenes, commentary, etc.

    You’ll never see peanuts the same after watching this film.

    Now everyone go Grab Yo Stuff!

  2. Nadya Says:


    Oh my god, so many great moments. I love their agent talking on the cell phone and taking a moment to just pull away from his conversation to chime in, “White Man. No good.”

    “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes?” “Don’t shoot until you see the whites, period, end of story!”

    The costumes are dead-on, and so is the casting. It really took me back to that time. Kurt Loder from MTV News! HAHA. Only watched half of it so far because I have to board the plane, but just wanted to say thank you for posting.

  3. liquidcow Says:

    What a strange coincidence, I was just talking about this film to someone the other day. I recorded it off the TV years ago and my VHS copy got watched so much that it wore out. Funnily enough I actually saw it before I saw Spinal Tap, so there were some moments during that where I realised that FOABH had ‘borrowed’ certain ideas from it, but it’s still a great film.

  4. Nadya Says:

    Oh yeah… Ross, did you ever see this?

  5. Ingrid Says:

    A friend of mine insisted we watch this movie, I’d never heard of it before. It was hilarious overall with a couple of slow parts, but that might be because I know very little about gangsta rap so I probably didn’t get the jokes. Worth watching for sure!