Spinal Rap

Is CB4 "the world's most dangerous band"? In a "rapumentary" about them by the hapless filmmaker A. White (Chris Elliott), such heavy-duty hip-hoppers as Ice-T, Ice Cube and Flavor Flav pay tribute to their awesome badness. That fake documentary, which comes at the start of CB4, raises one's hopes that Tamra ("Guncrazy") Davis's satire will do for hip-hop what "This Is Spinal Tap" did for heavy metal. Not quite. Soon we're scurrying off on a long flashback that tells us how three nice, middle-class kids-Albert (Chris Rock), Euripides (Allen Payne) and Otis (Deezer D)-pass themselves off as authentic gangsta rappers and rise to the top of the music biz. Trouble is, Rock has stolen a real gangster's identity, and now he's out of the joint and looking for revenge.

This plot is the thing about "CB4," a scattershot comedy written by Rock, Nelson George and Robert LoCash that takes aim at conniving groupies, mercenary Afrocentrists, right-wing politicians on anti-rap crusades and middle-class poseurs who think it's hip to act like gangbangers. But sending up the macho, misogynistic postures of rap isn't easy, because so much of the real thing already borders on knowing self-parody. Torn between celebration and sendup, "CB4" misses its big target as often as it hits. Still, it's hard not to chuckle when Rock, in a slow-motion lovers-running-in-the-field montage, trips and falls under an excess of gold chains, or when he experiences a nightmare vision of his future in the "Hip Hop Retirement Home." This isn't a movie for anyone who thinks Ice-T is served with NutraSweet, but rap fans will appreciate its funky, insider's irreverence.

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