Netflix’s “Dolemite Is My Name” Is An Origin Story Every Rap Head Needs To Watch
Some would argue Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s “The Message” is one of the best recorded rap songs in history. The electronic and spacey beat serves as the perfect backdrop to the hook, which is a forever mood, by the way: “Don’t push me, ‘cuz I’m close to the edge. I’m trying not to lose my head.” The track deserves its credit, considering it was one of the first mainstream rap songs with a socially relevant message. But every tree has its roots, and Netflix’s “Dolemite Is My Name” aims to bring the birth story of hip-hop to our collective consciousness where it cannot be forgotten. If rap is revered in our communities as the artistic griot of our culture, then we have to pay homage to the OG storyteller, Rudy Ray Moore.
Eddie Murphy makes a triumphant return to film as he embodies the man that is Rudy Moore and his foul-mouthed, clever and provocative character, Dolemite. Rudy Moore was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, but eventually settled in Los Angeles after being discharged by the army. While serving, he became interested in comedy, and took his passion for the craft to Hollywood. He released a series of comedic albums without much fanfare, but after hanging out with some bums and crackheads and listening to their wild stories, Rudy gathered the material he needed to birth his now iconic alter-ego, Dolemite.
Dolemite is the original sh*t talker. Dolemite’s sets were theatrical, gawdy and completely captivating. Donning a colorful and absurd suit, Dolemite delivered poetic hubris in a comedic package. Rudy released popular albums using this 1970s fictional pimp act, and he eventually went on to produce a feature film starring Dolemite’s raucous character. “Dolemite Is My Name” takes the audience into the heart of this creation story, as a band of misfits and nobodies work to produce a low-budget hit film despite the odds.
What’s most exciting about this origin tale is that you can hear threads of the character’s influence, not only in early hip-hop, but also in the voices, cadence and storytelling of the new school rappers like Meg Thee Stallion or Da Baby. Dolemite’s declaration to “beat mothaf*ckas up left and right,” is not a far cry from the outrageous “beat your a** up in front of your partna and children” lyrics we hear in Da Baby’s “Suge.” You can literally trace our musical history through the film, while pulling motivation and hope from the relentless determination of every character on screen. Dolemite is a relatable “dreams come true” tale that is a shining example of the magical ability Black folks have to turn every circumstance into art.
“Dolemite Is My Name” is now available in select theaters, and you can watch the entire movie when it premieres on Netflix on October 25th.