REVIEW: We Are Freestyle Love Supreme
While joking about not being famous, Tommy Kail, the director of Hamilton, says to Lin-Manuel Miranda, "There’s a good chance no one will ever know who you are."
It's weird to hear this given Miranda's superstar status.
But, these were different times in which these words were spoken. This was in the early 2000s when a young group of friends got together and create a freestyle hip hop show called Freestyle Love Supreme. That is what Hulu's new documentary movie We Are Freestyle Love Supreme is about.
Back in the day, Miranda co-created this group with Kail directing their show and the troop birthed many famous actors and hip hop artists today including Chris Jackson and Daveed Diggs both from Hamilton.
The documentary swings back and forth between their early days to their reunion show in 2019. Things have changed. Miranda has gone on to be highly sought for everything. Several of the members have gone on to new project. But there is still a lot of joy of this group coming together.
The show is a really interesting idea that requires audience participation. The audience provides words that the group then incorporate into freestyle which I am constantly impressed by. And, because of that, every performance is different.
Every member of the group brings something different. Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan is the beatboxer. Utkarsh "UTK" Ambudkar brings humor into what he performs. Andrew "Jelly Donut" Bancroft is a quick thinker to freestyle. Chris Jackson and James Monroe Inglehart bring a more lyrical quality. It's amazing to see this group come together.
And it's interesting to see this experiment when you think about its influences on both of Miranda's hit shows In The Heights and Hamilton and their impact on Broadway itself. All started by a group of people who enjoyed freestyling on the streets.
There are lots of great moments captured in this documentary, including when they read their first bad review at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival yet they still soldiered on. And, of course, their creation of their Broadway show. It only goes to show the spirit of this young troop and their strong belief in what they are doing.
This movie was originally supposed to start streaming last month at the height of the recent Black Lives Matter actions, but, out of respect, they decided to move the premiere date.
I will never pretend to fully understand rap and hip hop culture, but, with musicals such as Hamilton and this documentary, I get a better appreciation of it every time as a form of artistic expression. And that's a good thing for it to share with the world.