Director: Tamra Davis
Cast: Chris Rock, Allen Payne, Deezer D, Chris Elliott, Phil Hartman, Charlie Murphy, Khandi Alexander, Art Evans, Theresa Randle, Rachel True
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Faking it until you make it works—until, of course, you make it and your past returns to haunt you. In Tamra Davis' spot-on satire CB4, a group of wannabe rappers (Chris Rock, Allen Payne, Deezer D) seek help from hilariously intimidating goon Gusto (Charlie Murphy). They appropriate his hardcore persona into their music, fashioning themselves CB4, or “Cell Block 4,” a far cry from their wholesome upbringing. Their thug appeal results in popularity, but when Gusto breaks out of prison, good sense makes them drop the act, but not before Gusto ends up back behind bars where he belongs.
CB4 excels at making fun of hip-hop itself. The Wacky Dee character is a blatant reference to MC Hammer; CB4's hit single “Straight Outta Locash” is a parody of N.W.A.'s “Straight Outta Compton”; and the idea that an image needs to be sold to the public is a faulty idea that still plagues hip-hop to this day. Chris Rock helped write the film, and being the self-aware genius that he is, he was smart enough to reference some of his past roles. For example, New Jack City's crack-addicted Pookie and the skinny, Jheri curl-wearing kid pestering the great Isaac Hayes for a single rib in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.
Though hip-hop doesn't take itself too seriously (well, some artists do), it occasionally needs a good lampooning. This is why CB4 remains a trailblazing piece of filmmaking.