“I need some New Jack cops to take down a New Jack gangsta.” ~ Officer Stone
This is how I know I’m getting older. New Jack City, Mario Van Peebles’ debut film, was released in March 1991—20 years ago. Through the years I have watched this movie, which I deem as a classic, more times that I care to admit (as recently as last week on BET). Before Wesley Snipes became a regular in Spike Lee Joints, he showed his dark side in the lead role as the grimey drug lord of the notorious CMB, Nino Brown. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come, as west coast rapper and pimp (?), Ice T was already 5.o fighting crime, except he hadn’t cut that ponytail yet. Chris Rock was a crackhead named Pookie and even in film, singer, Christopher Williams (Kareem Akbar), was still labeled a “pretty muthaf*cka.”
There are some movies that expose the ills of society while making us mad and laugh, though that might not have been the intent, and New Jack City was one of them. Now, I could get all deep and talk about how NJC’s purpose was to shine a light on drugs and its destruction to the African-American community, yet two decades later, not only is the drug trade more powerful and mainstream, but glorified in music and entertainment. Drugs are not only found in housing projects and buildings like The Carter, where Brown manufactured his product (that’s where Lil Wayne got his album series title, for you youngins. Listen to track #1 on the first album), but on college campuses and even in the workplace. Any and everywhere is fair game. I guess he was right when he said, “This is bigger than me. It’s the American way.”
Instead of preaching to the choir, I’ll point out a few things in the movie that everyone loves from “quotables” to video clips.
1. Did you not feel like a betrayed mother when Pookie started smoking crack again? I’m always screaming, “Don’t do it, Pookie!” like he can actually hear me.
2. Nino’s haircut was horrible, and so were the colorful clothes, but it was the early 90s. He’s forgiven.
3. I always laugh uncontrollably when I see Keith Sweat’s strong neck performing at the wedding.
4 One of the best lines of the film: “Cancel that b*tch!” **pours champagne over her**
5. The fact that Guy had a guest performance says just how “90s” and “New Jack” this movie really was.
6. Was Keisha saying, “Rock-a-bye, baby?” Either way, that scene was cold-blooded.
7. The way G-Money fell, well, rolled over to his death was so fake.
8. My skin still crawls when Nino stabs Kareem in the hand with that sword.
9. Using small girls in pretty dresses as bullet shields is the ultimate sin.
10. Last, but not least, your life will not be complete until you tell someone, “Sit yo’ $5 a** down, before I make change!”
I’m missing so many things. What are your favorite/worst parts of New Jack City? Do you think it served as its purpose of bringing awareness to the war on drugs, or was it an ultimate fail? Does it even matter now?