Published on January 2nd, 2008 | by Erich Becker0
It’s largely known that the modern music industry is manufactured to sell records. As one of the characters states in the closing line of Nemesis, “Hip-hop is no longer black or white, its green,” and no truer words are spoken in the tale of childhood friends pitted against each other to create the Miami’s equivalent of the 1990’s east vs. west Coast rap feud. The affect of gangster rap or music in general, is a debate of politicians, but this film throws it into the forefront of conversation as Nate (Sheaun Mckinney) and Rick (Marlon Taylor) become rap stars in the 305 area code of Florida and subsequently are pitted against each other by greedy record executives who know how acts like 50 Cent succeed in selling records and making money.
The independent film from director Lee Cipolla and written by Jeremy Mitchell, Nicanson Guerrier, and Cipolla creates the manifestation of Nemesis, Nate’s manufactured gangsta rap persona who’s blowing up on the underground scene and looking to be the meal ticket for Renaissance Records, but to push him to the next level he has to take on a back story forgetting his father and subverting his childhood friendship to Rick to the point of near gunplay for the sake of public image.
While it can be argued that the events portrayed in the film only seem to solidify the negative stereotypes of hip-hop with weapons, needless feuds, and an encouraging of violence against each other for the sake of street cred, the audience is fully aware of the character’s true personalities and they can see the feigned images for what they are, fake.
The film is wonderfully shot with director of photography Justin Marx relaying some truly beautiful cinematography and the use of handheld cameras really brings the audience into the picture. There are, however, some short comings with some strange, hard cuts making particular scenes awkward and seem disjointed. Also, during the rapping scenes for Nate, its very obvious that he isn’t providing the vocals himself with most of the shots from the back, or obstructed only adding to this minor distraction.
As wonderful as the script is, there are a few moments of cheesy dialog and some of the lines that feel very forced. The banter between the record executives (one even played by Mitchell) are usually the source of these problems, luckily they are far and between, and for the most part the story is written in an easy to follow manner, employing great use of flashbacks as it builds up the story of a younger Nate and his dad and the hardship they faced together. This makes his shunning of his father all the more poignant and emotional when it looks like things are coming to a dramatic head.
Nemesis strives to touch on something different and greatly excels as a wonderfully acted, smartly written, and entertaining look behind the scenes of the fakeness of the music industry and the overall greed that corrupts the true artists just trying to make it.