6 years

Review: The Great Hip Hop Hoax (2013)

The Great Hip Hop Hoax is a particularly interesting story that has some biting things to say about modern music, even though it ends with a bit of a whimper.

A review of The Great Hip Hop Hoax

Many films suggest that truth is indeed stranger than fiction, films like Brad Layton’s The Imposter, John Maringouin’s Big River Man and Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s Catfish, all serve as evidence. This documentary is another film to add to that pile, if lower down the pecking order than others. The Great Hip Hop Hoax is a film that feels like it could potentially be much more but, having said that, is an entertaining documentary in its own right. Jeanie Finlay has directed a film that, unsurprisingly being backed by BBC Scotland, feels more like a TV documentary than a screen outing. Though that is not always a detriment.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax by name alone suggests something explosive and that is certainly done justice to. Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd’s transition to audacious hip hop duo Silibil n’ Brains was done with the best intentions and that is a good factor of this film. In presenting us this outrageous story the film does makes some worthwhile comments about the modern music industry. Particularly telling is how Bain and Boyd were mocked as “the rapping proclaimers” but when re-invented as the Americans with the same music, were offered an immediate contract. This film certainly suggests the fickle nature of the music business and that is certified by some informed talking heads that affirm that notion (“The Rolling Stones members are worthless on their own but magic when together”).

The journey these two aspiring rappers took is certainly well presented here, with undoubtedly as much information as possible. The unfortunate thing is that the animated inter-cuts presenting certain situations get a tad tiresome and Boyd and Bain’s characters feel unlikable at points. There is also the major problem that this story essentially thunders along only to fizzle out a bit. The climax feels rather unexplosive and Finlay’s direction in getting there feels a bit over-the-top. It is a big problem that Silibil n’ Brains annoy but it is perhaps a bigger problem that this film feels less impacting than you would have thought.

At times this documentary feels more akin to Jackass skits than a grand unveiling of the music industry. Then again, it seems that the same could be said of Boyd and Bain’s story. Initially setting out to lift the lid on modern music ideals, they became too absorbed with riches, booze and fame. Unintentionally then, perhaps Finlay’s film has expressed the problems with the music industry. It’s a shame more couldn’t have been made of that, still this remains an entertaining enough documentary.

  • Genuinely interesting, well-informed talking heads.
  • Has a TV film vibe, the story ends on a somewhat unexplosive note and the onscreen “characters” are not especially likeable.

Discussion feed

  • Hey Sam! I can't attach a feature picture to this post, is it something to do with my permission access on the new system? Best, Tom
  • Hey Sam, it's the new system, I'm just trying it out for my latest podcast episode with Greg Lucey and I'm trying to attach a picture - it uploads the picture and then says I don't have permission to attach it :(
  • Hi Tom, I'll look into this today. I think I already know what the issue is. It's because the media being uploaded is not associating itself to a post ID. Thank you for being my test dummy. At least this creation dialogue is working!!!
  • Hey Sam, I've tried again just now still the same issues I'm afraid :( I'd also look at the text editor I'm not sure if the texted/front is properly formatting at the moment (there's big gapes in the spacing, front size). If you want to jump around inside my draft and see what's what please do! I think I am going to use the legacy editor to upload today, but we can work  on testing and refining the new editor together :) Best, Tom

Everything is ready for a screengrab

Back to full article