It might seem difficult to think of the 1990s as the “Golden Age” of anything. No offense to the ’90s, but they just don’t seem so long ago.
However, that period could be described as such for the hip-hop scene in Flint. Rapper Eric “MC” Breed achieved national chart success in 1991 with his first hit, “Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin’” and collaborated with the nationally famous Tupac Shakur, Too Short and E-40. Meanwhile, the gangsta-genre works of Flint’s Dayton Family – fronted by Ira “Bootleg” Dorsey – climbed the charts as the funk- and soul-influenced “Midwest Rap ‘’ was popularized.
Breed and Dorsey are prominently featured in a new documentary, “Breed and Bootleg: Legends of Flint Rap Music,” which will mark its Flint theatrical debut this month at the Flint Institute of Arts. The film was directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker (and Flint native) Geri Alumit Zeldes, a Michigan State University journalism professor.
Zeldes was inspired to make the hour-long movie because she didn’t want future generations to forget this chapter of Flint’s creative past, and to show that the Flint rap influence was as much national as regional.
Her emphases are on Breed and Dorsey (NaTasha Gist-Breed, Eric’s longtime partner, is a co-producer of the film), but “Breed and Bootleg” includes interviews with notables from Flint and elsewhere such as LeRon “DJ L.A.” Burke, Jon Connor, Frank Nitty, DJ Big X, and Steven “Kidd Blast” Metcalf. Another interviewee is my former colleague Doug Pullen, the Flint Journal music writer during these peak years. Breed died from kidney failure in 2006, but Dorsey has continued to perform and record.
The FIA briefly streamed “Breed and Bootleg” last spring as part of its flagship Friends of Modern Art film series, but plans are (conditions permitting) to show it in-person September 24-26 in the FIA Theater, with the live participation of Zeldes and others connected with the movie.
September, in fact, marks the opening of the latest FOMA series, which was streamed throughout last season but is set to return to the theater for 2021-22. The schedule begins September 10-12 with “Riders of Justice,” a darkly humorous suspense thriller from Denmark that stars the always-interesting Mads Mikkelsen.
Two films are on tap the following weekend, with “The Truffle Hunters” (September 16, 18-19), a very savory documentary about the hunt for a rare white truffle in the wilds of Italy, and “French Exit” (September 17-19), a comedy-drama starring Michelle Pfeiffer as an aging, caustic Manhattan socialite who moves to a small apartment in Paris with her son and cat.
Information on times, tickets and other updates on FIA films can be found by visiting the museum website at flintarts.org. See you at the movies!