HUHC168 was definitely been a week to remember! But before we could really get into the groove of things, VH1 aired it’s sequel to the generational classic, Drumline, and a lot of HU students tuned in. Drumline: A New Beat premiered October 27 and most students watched the movie because Drumline was a movie that we all grew up watching. For some, it was the very reason we chose to attend an HBCU for college, along with other timeless classics like Stomp the Yard. As black students we have to realize that every black movie made is a new stride for blacks in the film world. Most of the time, it’s hard for production teams of color to get funding and produce a positive message. So I would have to say that Drumline: A New Beat was a nice attempt at reviving the HBCU spirit for the next generation, but like most sequels the movie was just above mediocre. However, it did have its good moments.
The story was centered on freshman, Danielle Raymond, a strong female lead, something that is hard to accomplish for black women in the industry. Dani is an upper class girl from New York who defies her parents to play in the band at Atlanta A&T, a fictional HBCU previously seen in the first Drumline movie. Dani is trying to make it as section leader on the school drumline or as they called it, “The Senate.” Along the way Dani meets new friends and even gains a fondness for fellow drummer and rival, Jayven. The movie also sheds light on Devon Miles’ (Nick Cannon) rival in the original movie Sean Taylor. Sean returns as the bands new director following in the footsteps of critically acclaimed Dr. Lee. According to VH1, “Sean is looking to make his mark on his alma mater while dealing with “ghosts” from his past: the dean, Dr. Nia Phillips (LeToya Luckett), his brother, Kevin Taylor (Deray Davis) and original “Drumline” favorite, Devon Miles.”
To many students, it seemed that the most money was put into the actual band and the band’s performances. They were spectacular! With lighting effects, incredible formations, musical arrangements, and the honest spirit of rivalry amongst their competitors, the “New Beat” was one of the best parts of the movie. The movie told the truth about dorms. They are old and small and we do have communal bathrooms. The co-ed floors were a little foreign to Hampton U, but I’m sure there are some HBCU’s out there who live in quarters like that. The so called toughness of making it into various organizations was real too. Most huge groups like band give freshmans hell when they first get to college.
The new movie also took on current social issues. Important aspects of the movie was a lead female who came from money having to work harder for things after her parents cut her off, their incorporation of a male gay character dealing with a down low football player, a black girl with beauty and most importantly brains, interracial dating, sexism in male dominated groups, dysfunctional families, drugs and substance abuse. And that was just to name a few! With interesting new background stories on once underdeveloped characters like director Sean Taylor and even a cameo appearance from Devon Miles, Drumline: A New Beat was in fact interesting to watch. Like other black movies, they also incorporated household names we know and love. I am from Atltanta, so just seeing our prized V103 Radio Station promotional pieces gave me life. Former BET host Big Tigger was just one celebrity guest that caught the eye of the audience.
The production team definitely tried to make the movie more modern. They added iMessage into the mix with text message pop-ups on screen. They also tried to incorporate the new lingo. “Inaccurate” or “overdone,” “tried too hard” would be the best way to describe this so called act of reeling in a younger audience. I would also say that the movie inaccurately portrayed the HBCU experience. Creators were definitely trying to use tactics to appeal to a crossover audience as well. The lack of culture in many scenes kind of whitewashed the point of portraying an HBCU. Club scenes had rave like qualities, a practice foreign to the HBCU party set. Greek life came off more PHA than NPHC. At Hampton we have many rules for freshman, so the carefree lifestyle portrayed on screen was inauthentic to our student body. However, it could be true of others. The movie also captured less of the school. In the original, the movie exhibited other parts of college like the simple act of walking on the yard and picking up girls. All we could really see was the band on and off the field. I thought they could have put more emphasis on the life of a college student in a major city at an HBCU.
Overall, I would not say “Mom, I definitely want to go to an HBCU” after watching. The movie itself was an “I’m watching it cause it’s on” type of flick after a certain point. On Twitter, many students dumped Drumline 2 in the trash with the rest of the sequels such as Stomp the Yard 2, Honey 2, and Mean Girls 2. A lot of students felt forced into discussing taboo topics such as sexuality and stereotypes. I would honestly give it a 6 out of 10 only because of the fact it hit hard on social topics. I felt although the movie itself wasn’t perfect, the characters were well developed, the performances were unique, and the casting was aesthetically on point. But the story wasn’t cohesive at certain points and the portrayal of college was whitewashed. Drumline: A New Beat is a must see, but only if you haven’t already watched it. You have to watch it and find out for yourself if you like it or not. And when you find out, ask yourself, “Drumline: A New Beat? Or All Drummed Out?”