MANIFF: Das Wassup

Images courtesy of MANIFF

Director: Johannes Schaff

Studio: Rosemilk Productions

Starring: Yo Majesty

If the introductory description of “imagine Dreamgirls, but instead of it being about three friends from Detroit it’s about three God-fearing lesbian rappers from Tampa, Florida” doesn’t sell you on Das Wassup, I’m not sure what will.

Directed by Johannes Schaff, who also acts as the film’s narrator, Das Wassup follows the journey of Yo Majesty, an American hip-hop group consisting of singer Jwl B and rappers Shunda K and Shon B.

The trio eventually becomes a duo just as the group set off on their UK tour and it’s from here that Shunda K and Shon B steal the show, both on and off stage. From stories of badly timed slut drops, to the endless confrontations between the two, the films content feels almost too good to be real.

It’s impressive that the film manages to create such a strong link between the audience and the two band members. While at each others throats for the majority of the film, revealing an extensive past criminal history of one of the girls and presenting multiple incidents of property damage, we find ourselves wanting the group to put their differences aside. Through their humour and honesty, both Shunda K and Shon B easily win over their viewers throughout.

The film’s cinematography certainly lends to this, clever editing helps to add an extra edge and emotion to scenes and one in particular that intends to demonstrate the monotony of life on tour e.g. eat, sleep, wake up early etc. is especially effective.

It’s occasionally a little difficult to place footage into a wider picture of the duo’s journey due to the speed at which the film moves from scene to scene.  This could equally be representative of the rapid and chaotic nature of life on tour however, and in particular, with Shunda K and Shon B confined in small spaces together for long periods of time.

The film focuses on the interpersonal drama of the band, yet unlike the film’s description suggests, rarely touches on the band’s sexuality and gender past the comment of “they didn’t get it.”This doesn’t remove anything from the film, if anything the film would likely have felt a little cluttered with content with its conclusion. The detail certainly makes for an eye catching description, even if not covered in the film’s content.

There’s a surprising number of links to punk music for a film focused on hip-hop as well, and name drops of iconic feminist musicians will immediately catch your ear in the opening scenes including Peaches and Beth Ditto. This helped to give the film a wider appeal, and highlights the fact that this is a film about characters, rather than the music they create.

Das Wassup, is a goldmine of wonderful dialogue, creative film making, explosive drama and heart warming humour. It might not have been what we expected, but it was certainly a welcomed surprise.

We teamed up with Humanity Hallows to bring you complete coverage of the Manchester International Film Festival. You can view the full list of reviews which is being updated as we post new content here.

Jack Holmes

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