Turn Back the Clock

Brown Sugar

The Movie and What it Meant to Me

Starring Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
Genre: Hip Hop, Romance, Comedy, Drama
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Running time: 109 minutes

By Jon Minners

"When Did You First Fall In Love With Hip Hop"

So, I sat there talking to this girl Denita about movies we loved.  The two of us shared a common affection for Love & Basketball and as we went down the list of other films, we realized we had a lot more in common, but then she named a film; Brown Sugar, and I had no idea what she was talking about.  She looked at me like I had ten heads.  I mean, any lover of Hip Hop or films liked The Wood, had to have seen Brown Sugar, but strangely, I had not. 

It became a common theme with us.  Her name was Denita and she had worked at Applebee's, so my coworkers used to call her Denita Applebum, which was actually based on Bonita Applebum, performed by A Tribe Called Quest and featured in the film I had yet to see.  Then, when me and Denita decided to just be friends back in February of last year, I made her promise me that if she ever felt different, she had to tell me and her reply, “Yea, I wouldn’t want a repeat of Brown Sugar,” to which I replied, “huh,” once again, leading her to chastising me for not yet watching.  I never did get to see Brown Sugar with her; Love & Basketball would be our movie, but I did end up seeing the film with someone very special and it became an instant favorite. 

This movie is about a love for Hip Hop, but really about how the love for Hip Hop brought two people together.  Rick Famuyiwa, who already gave us a hit with The Wood, directed the film, following the strong friendship between Sidney, played by Love & Basketball and The Wood star Sanaa Lathan and Dre, played by Taye Diggs, also of The Wood.  Sidney and Dre met each other by watching the rap battles in the street together and their mutual admiration for Hip Hop led them down different paths of the same field; together.  Sidney became the editor of the Hip Hop review XXL (before they became big – this film certainly had vision) and Dre became an unfulfilled music producer that became tired of putting out mainstream robots and wanted something more from Hip Hop in the form of a master lyricist played by Mos Def

A major life changing decision, Dre turns to Sidney for advice.  She’s his rock; his foundation, but the two are only friends.  In fact, Dre is getting married to Reese, played by Nicole Ari Parker, a successful lawyer who senses the same sparks viewers see between Sidney and Dre, which can be seen at her bachelorette party, where Sidney’s knowledge of everything about Dre threatens Reese.  Sidney subconsciously feels something, too.  The fact that Dre and Reese do not seem right for each other; the fact that her best friend is getting married and Sidney’s not even dating and the fact that beneath it all, there is something there between Sidney and Dre, pushes the budding Hip Hop journalist into rushing her own life, dating and agreeing to marry the wrong person; a man who is a stark contrast to Dre; doesn’t read Sidney’s work unless it is about him or support her career as she continues writing a book about her love for Hip Hop. 

Tension fills the air, emotions get the better of both and a world is turned upside down as Dre tries to get his new Hip Hop career off the ground and Sidney pushes a book that may not really be about her love of Hip Hop after all.  This leads to the greatest line in the film, “When did you first fall in love with Hip Hop?”  And the answer is probably the coolest, most emotionally uplifting and poignant moment in any film I ever saw. 

This is a love story with a Hip Hop theme that gives you a reason to believe; believe that dreams can come true, that happiness is out there and that love may be closer than you think. 

I never did get to see this film with Denita, but I did watch it with my friend on what was probably one of the more memorable days of my life, spent with someone who truly means a lot to me; someone that shares a similar love for movies and music and someone I share so much with on a daily basis.  Every time I talk to Vanity, I think of Brown Sugar.  Every time the movie is on television, I have to watch it and I think of that day I hung out with Vanity; the girl who entered my life out of nowhere and became an important part of it.  The best movies are those that remind you of happy times and special people.  Vanity is one of my closest friends and I don’t know what will happen in the future, but no matter what, she will always be my Brown Sugar and that’s what this movie means to me. 


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