Music Documentaries

Starting today we will regularly be taking a look at some of the interesting music documentaries being made out there at the moment. Some have been out for some time, while others are still in the making or haven’t  found an outlet yet. If possible we will provide links to the movies and if not we’ll keep you posted as to when and where to find them.

“Looking 4 Galt”

“Lookin 4 Galt” was released late last year and claims to be “hip hop’s first road movie”. Two French guys who call themselves GasFace are on a mission to locate Galt MacDermot, the Canadian musician who is most famous for composing the music for the musical “Hair”. He has had a very prolific career, however, dabbling in everything from jazz and funk to classical music and film scores. He is also an extremely media shy individual who lives a very private life somewhere in New York City and Gasface are determined to find him.

A lot of MacDermot’s work has been sampled by hip hop producers on records by everyone from Busta Rhymes to Run DMC. Some of the producers who have sampled him appear in the movie providing insight on his work and explaining their own attraction to it. These include Prince Paul, Buckwild and Mr Walt among many others. The movie is also narrated by El Da Sensei from the Artifacts. You should check this documentary out if you’re interested in gaining some insight on an artist who has contributed a lot to hip hop’s sound over the years.


“Unstoppable” is an Italian produced documentary which offers a unique look at the early days of the London hip hop scene (1979-88). It was put together by the author Guiseppe Pipitone and filmmaker Lidia Ravviso who are both connected to the Italian hip hop scene. It promises an interesting look at a scene which remains quite underexposed.

While the growth of contemporary British movements like punk, reggae and Rock Against Racism have all been well documented, the birth and development of the British hip hop scene is often overlooked.  That’s a shame because British rap influenced many later developments at home and abroad and it opened a lot of doors for black acts in the British music industry.

“Unstoppable” aims to do something about this widespread amnesia. The movie consists of four sections which each take an independent look at a specific issue regarding the early British hip hop movement. As far as I can tell it hasn’t been screened anywhere yet. I´m not even sure it’s finished. But check out the trailer and follow what’s happening on this facebook page.

“All Ears”

The past decade has seen a lot of hip hop-influenced, experimental music coming out of Los Angeles. The music is mostly instrumental and a lot of it influenced by J.Dilla and Madlib, but besides that a lot of the artists differ wildly in terms of style and aestethics.

In what looks like a fascinating documentary, filmmaker Gus Sutherland explores this very fertile LA Beats-scene, attempting to document it’s history and interviewing some of its key practitioners. Among those who appear in the movie are Ras G, Dam Funk, DJ House Shoes, Kutmah and more. The trailer for the movie was screened at this years SXSW. We’re still waiting for an official release date, but you can keep yourself informed on this facebook page.


Straight Love (D’Angelo – Feel Like Makin Love Rework)

British producer and singer, Vib, did a nice reworking of one of my favorite tunes from D’Angelo’s classic “Voodoo” album.  “Feel Like Makin’ Love” is chopped up and reassembled to very smooth effect.

Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra – Future Ancestors

Afrobeat, space jazz and funk collide when Britain’s Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra get together and jam. The Leeds-based collective has been releasing records since 2010 and are steadily converting followers across Europe and elsewhere with their unique brand of cosmic afrobeat. The group is signed to UK label First Word records whose eclectic roster just keeps getting more and more impressive every year.

Since 2004 the label has released their annual “Two Syllables”-compilation which gives a snapshot of where the label is at musically at the moment. The ninth edition was recently released and includes the Arkestra’s “Future Ancestors”, a track taken from their latest release “Towards Other Worlds”. It nicely showcases their style which brings together diverse influences like Fela Kuti and Sun-Ra. Check out more of their work here

Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up (James Sison Remix)

Marvin Gaye’s classic song, “Got To Give It Up”, from 1977 is experiencing a bit of a resurgence at the moment thanks to the controversy generated by Robin Thicke’s lawsuit against Marvin Gaye’s estate. On a more positive note, however, British DJ and producer, James Sison, recently gave the classic dance floor track the deep house treatment resulting in a mellow and stylish affair which nicely updates the track.  Grab it for free.


French Kiwi Juice – Instant Need

French Kiwi Juice is a damn funky name for a damn funky guy. He first made waves about a year ago with his excellent debut EP “The Twins” and last month he dropped his second EP “Time For A Change”. Information on this young producer from Paris is hard to find, but his unique brand of sample heavy, electronic funk places him nicely alongside fellow French funkateers like Onra and early Daft Punk.

FKJ, however, has a style all his own. His firm grasp of styles like funk, house, soul, hip hop and nu disco allows him to make superbly funky uptempo tracks aimed straight at the dance floor as well as slower, more soulfully seductive grooves. If your into the so called French Touch you should keep your eyes on this guy. A personal favorite from the new EP is “Instant Need” with it’s chopped vocals and summery vibes. Check out the rest of the EP on his Soundcloud.

Buscrates 16-Bit Ensemble – Cut Out The Lights (Funkee Drummer)

Buscrates is a skilled and quite prolific producer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The last few years he’s been making some waves on the underground circuit with several excellent productions doing everything from boom bap hip hop to boogie funk. Besides being a solo artist he’s also a member of the Pittsburgh group E.L.Q. (East Liberty Quarters) and the music collective Futuristic Soul Society.

On the above track he flexes his skills and inventiveness as a beat maker flipping one the most sampled breaks of all time: “Funky Drummer” by the one and only James Brown. Buscrates succeeds in putting a fresh and surprisingly mellow spin on the break lacing it with some smooth chords and nice synth work to create the trademark Buscrates vibe. It’s a testament to his creativity that he’s able to bring something original to this well-worn breakbeat.

Check out more of his work here