Reviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
It really sucks when your dad is absent.
Mom may be the driving force in young Jules’ life, but she really wants to connect with her dad and make him proud. He he ignores her though. All the time! As the child of divorced parents, Jules gets shipped off to the Valley for weekends with a deliberately silent and emotionally neglectful father who leaves her to her own devices in a quiet bedroom. While he’s not speaking to Jules, he’s paying a lot of attention to his new girlfriend and it doesn’t take long for Jules to figure out that he probably wishes she wasn’t even born.
But there is salvation to loneliness. Jules connects with the fashion, figures and spoken word fusion of hip hop during its Golden Era, and the music ends up being the other parent raising her self-esteem and educating her on independence until when college-bound, she finally has the courage to no longer need her absentee dad.
90s HIP HOP RAISED ME is a sweet, albeit, slightly one-note, one-woman, show written by solo performer Malaika Jules who offers a rather quiet but deep viewpoint of a lonely kid living in the fantasy of “what it could be like, if”. Although, slightly inhibited by sluggish direction her narrative is insightful into the mind and emotional life of a young girl surviving on cultural influence to answer the important questions about herself as she navigates friendships, heartbreaks, entrepreneurship, and observes the follies of everyone else in the world around her; and surprisingly, turns out ok.
While 90s HIP HOP RAISED ME doesn’t necessarily have a completely happy ending. It’s the one Jules needs and deserves.
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