Short Film Review “Snuffalafaghost: Hip Hop’s First Stylist”



First, the Recap:

Claims to fame. For almost any individual who has now made it to the big time, especially in arenas of entertainment like sports, theater, film, et al, there had to be that catalyst which propelled them from obscurity to the top. But, as is so often the case when success dominates ones actions and attitudes, can it be maintained for the long haul? It is NYC 1983 and one young man named Will O’Leary stumbles upon two men in desperate need of a fashion overhaul. Taking unilateral action to improve their wardrobe for a video shoot being completed by them, the style forever associated with the trio known as Run DMC was created. Will soon realized he had vision for design.

Suddenly, Will’s fortunes explode as a stylist to the burgeoning hip hop community, along with an initial run-in with rock via Run DMC’s “Walk This Way” video with Aerosmith, where he suggested Steven Tyler dress up his mic stand with scarves. From there, it was everything from LL Cool J’s hat, Big Daddy Kane’s high-riding pants, Shock G’s glasses-with-a-big-nose alter ego Humpty Hump, Tupac’s thongs, MC Hammer’s parachute pants–all money, glamour, and hard partying for the man now known as Snuffalafaghost. But, ten years on top take their toll, and the suddenly penniless, drug-addicted shell of a talented soul remained. Would he be able to bounce back? Or would the pressure to always be the best keep him down for good?

Next, my Mind:

Writer/director Artie Brennan does one amazing job here in executing a fascinating and deeply engaging look at one of the hip hop industry’s most hidden gems and acute visionaries, effectively doing so with this documentary effort that manages such impact in just a little over five minutes! It’s incredible how one person, who single-handedly defined such a plethora of  unique and trademark styles these music artists were adorned with and became known for, was able to attain quick success and notoriety, yet still end up like so many high-flyers do–broken and battling addiction. Yet, the narrative doesn’t linger on O’Leary’s downfall for long, **spoiler alert** offering instead a watershed moment involving a chance meeting on the streets with soon-to-be megastar and controversy magnet Kanye West **end spoilers** and soon, Snuffalafaghost is back in the picture with fashion successes for Kriss Kross, Nelly, Flavor Flav, Ice-T, and A Tribe Called Quest. It’s inspiring and satisfying to see someone so brilliantly skilled overcome the odds and become relevant again. That’s the beauty of real life that documentaries cover which stands out like this.

The interviews with the ‘Snuff himself that are interspersed throughout the film are pure entertainment in and of themselves, with his flamboyant wardrobe that so befits the fashionista’s equally flashy and vibrant demeanor, gravely voice, candid humor, and overall intelligent reasoning truly keeps you glued to the screen, just anticipating what ode to greatness, name drop, or style-infused methodology he’ll come up with next. But, there’s the vulnerable side revealed here as well, which only aids in making the viewer able to actually emphasize with someone whose income at one point was most likely the size of a small country’s GNP. It’s this vivid transparency that grabs you, and really makes one wish more celebrities would embrace this kind of brazen openness instead of just trying to hide it all behind slamming Trump, the U.S.A., or dodging shameful sexual misconduct suits. Narrator extraordinaire Adam Hamway does excellent voiceover work here to boot, pulling us along through the history of a star with poise and deep-voiced machismo. Classic pictures of the artists portrayed are likewise well displayed.

Therefore, in total, and other than the crass comment the film’s subject decides to throw out in the finale that I really did not at all need a picture of in my head, Snuffalafaghost: Hip Hop’s First Stylist” stands as a wonderfully relatable, compelling, and highly amusing piece of indie short film magic that should garner Brennan his first Oscar nod for Best Documentary Short Film. Seriously folks, this is uncomplicated, simple, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, goofy material to enjoy for exactly what it is–FUN!  Loosen up! Peace!

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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