Postechian’s Pick : Bodied—Battle Rap and Hip-Hop Culture
Postechian’s Pick : Bodied—Battle Rap and Hip-Hop Culture
  • reporter Yoon Seok-sang
  • 승인 2019.11.08 15:02
  • 댓글 0
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▲ Bodied
▲ Bodied


After starring in the highly successful movie 8 Mile, American rapper Eminem is back at it again–but this time, as a producer. Bodied, the movie featured in this edition of Postechian’s Pick, is a 2018 American battle rap comedy-drama film that digs deep into the themes of aggressive humor and cultural sensitivity. 

Adam Merkin is a white graduate student at UC Berkeley. He is writing a thesis on the use of the n-word in battle rap and attends a freestyle rap battle to research. He tries to interview rapper Behn Grymm, who performed in the rap battle, but is made fun of instead. Later in the parking lot outside, Behn Grymm is called out by young white rapper Billy Pistolz; Adam steps in instead and delivers his first-ever freestyle verse. Behn Grymm, impressed, agrees to speak with Adam further.
Adam’s father, Professor Merkin, is a bestselling author and professor at Berkeley. He is not impressed by Adam’s thesis and ridicules him. To make matters worse, a video of Adam freestyling goes viral–turning the entire university, his girlfriend, and his father against him. What will happen to Adam, his thesis, and his life?

Eminem is well known for his lyricism, and this movie is no exception. Each rap battle is constructed well, and the lyrics are full of brilliant wordplay. The control of tone, pace, cultural metaphors, and funniness is on point. These elements are critical for a hip-hop themed movie like Bodied. However, the outstanding performance from the actors, especially Calum Worthy who played the role of Adam Merkin, should not be left unnoticed. The brilliant acting allowed the lyrics and the message of the director to be fully transferred to the viewers.
Take a look at Adam’s thesis: “The Varied Poetic Functions of the N-Word in Battle Rap.” This statement, along with other racist/sexist “punchlines” prevalent throughout the film, presents a funny satire of hip-hop culture. It is not saying that hip-hop is wrong; rather, it is pointing out that this culture is impossible to judge based solely on what it looks like. The movie shows how rappers from different ethnic groups and gender can make racist/sexist comments about each other in rap battles and still be cool with each other. At the same time, the movie portrays how the same words can be taken very offensively by someone outside the stage or in another context. What the movie is trying to say is that battle rap is a culture of its own that should be respected.
It is completely understandable that not all people agree with the director’s view. It is true that “funny” is a subjective term, and some people might be offended by the movie. Only depicting rappers being cool with the racist/sexist jokes, in other words conforming to the “culture”, is definitely a shortcoming of this movie.

A fresh movie, one of a kind. Completely worth your two hours. An excellent battle rap film with the magical touch of one of the greatest rappers of all time. An insight into battle rap culture. Unfortunately, this movie is currently available to YouTube Premium subscribers only; those of you who have not used the 30-day trial should consider spending it here.