The movie is a wrap up of Roc’s web series under the same name so with an extended run time of about 2 hours, the film has the freedom to expand on the story. All self funded, Roc reached out and got many local Seattle actors and actresses who were untrained but that feeds into the authenticity of the project overall. While the camera cuts may be a bit rough as most of the story is told through phone calls between the characters (All whom kept their actual names) once you get passed that the story itself is quite engaging!
It all starts from calls being made to the Boss Lady for product, Roc is apart of a record label that scouts new talent but hustles the royalties of each artist off top without them being the wiser. To fund this operation they move product to further invest in their company of shady practices. Roc and his right hand man, Isaac Pam aka Barr are street level dealers who are about to get themselves caught up in a who done it mystery that has yet to unfold. The scenes between Roc and Barr are fleshed out quite well and Barr is arguably the comic relief in this film, as you watch it you’ll see moments of Barr’s genuine comedic timing, an attribute that can’t really be taught. Roc’s trap house has suddenly been robbed, ordered by Asia (played by model Asia Jones) because the Boss Lady sold her weak product, so she’s tryna get her money back while at the same time, constantly questioning her future involvement is this hustle. From here the mystery begins and it seems like everyone is a marked man as each player moves based off of Boss Lady’s word.
While untrained, the portrayal of Boss Lady is played perfectly by Aries Rochelle who makes you believe every word as she embodies the character. Roc hits local talent shows to scope out artists and happens to find a singer that he has plans to exploit, the problem is he tries to hide what he’s doing from his other singer who he is also in a relationship with. Rocs power of persuasion comes from creating more than just a working relationship. After questioning whether or not to sign over his business to an artist he’s known for 3 WEEKS, he is stabbed and robbed by a woman in the park while sitting on a bench. The one who did it happens to be the sister of an artist so now the web expands and tightens on the players involved.
Roc survives the attempt but now has to play dead as he searches for answers about who hit his trap house causing him to go into debt to boss lady. He tries to go up the chain calling another player and cutting a deal for more packages, unfortunately his money comes up a bit short and the other supply beats him down in his living room for the blatant disrespect. Through phone calls, Roc manages to discover that its this girl Asia who is behind the hit, meeting up with her he tries to concoct a scheme that’ll indict her and allow him to pay off his debts. The scene between these 2 characters first meeting left me chuckling, its the subtle things that both actors did that really kept my attention.
As this part of the mystery is solved, Boss Lady has reached out to Barr to clean up the loose ends on all sides. With his strange ability to get his hands on explosives, Barr is down for the payoff as he plays both sides to the middle and walks into the shadows. Setting explosives on the studio, Roc’s house and Boss Ladies’s car as well as Asia’s the movie ends with all the main characters meeting their demise in a fiery ball that some may call karma and others may call just another day in the game.
The direction of this film is rather ambitious and while the budget may not match the vision the story as well as the camera shots had me thinking on past directors and their projects which may have influenced this. Through the screen shots and dialogue I am convinced that if a major studio had done this instead, Roc would’ve easily been played by actor Charles S. Dutton, it’s his whole demeanor and voice inflection that left that feeling in my head. Direction wise I’m going to go further back in time. As a lover of film, cinephile I believe the term is, I’d say that much of this story seems to be a modernization of black Westerns from the 30’s and 40’s. The basis of the story is the same the only difference is the setting of an urban city instead of a homesteaders ranch. In that aspect, much of Roc’s performance and direction reminded me of the late, great, Spencer Williams who would later go one to voice Amos in the radio show Amos and Andy. In the same way that Williams gave birth to Herb Jeffries and to a degree, Paul Robeson, Roc could very well give an opportunity to any one of these actors through his work.
As I stated earlier, everyone played their parts convincingly and honestly most fell into their characters a bit more in the second and third acts, but the standouts for me were Barr and Aries Rochelle who took the screen every time they were on it, never wasting a minute of the time. The pride that I had in seeing this film was seeing all of Roc’s business’s as well as others hustle shown on camera. From shots of his clothing line and website to a brief shot of author Prince Reece’s novel it was a culmination of Seattle coming together to support their own. On top of it, all the music was produced locally as Barr who is co producer on this has ties to almost anything entertainment driven up here. This project is a culmination of belief, vision, imagination, determination and action and further goes to show what we can achieve if we move together as one.