The Great Hip Hop Hoax

Director: Jeanie Finlay

Starring: Gavin Bain, Billy Boyd

Running Time: 93 mins

Cert: 18

Release date: 6th September 2013

How many times have you watched a pop or rock group and said you yourself “Are you for real?” Then you see Californian-based hip hop artists, Silibil n’ Brains, from the beginning of this century, who were taking the music industry by storm and you may say exactly the same thing. Except the difference between them and other acts is that they aren’t for real. In fact they are complete fabrications. They are two Scottish lads who pretended to be two American lads and the music industry bought it. This likeable, fun documentary tells the story.

Best friends Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd live is Scotland and have a talent for hip hop and rapping. They go to London to audition for producers looking for the next big thing in the Hip Hop world but get laughed out due to who they were and where they came from, citing that no one would ever be convinced by two white Scottish lads. By accident, they come up with a plot to become Californian. They studied the place, learnt to speak with the accent and from this point on, they had to live their lives as two loud, highly energetic boys from across the pond. Auditioning again for Island Record, this time they were snapped up and so began a roller coaster ride of excess and fame, even to the point that MTV quoted them as being the big act to watch. How long could they pull the wool over the eyes of the music industry and how far could they go?

Jeanie Farlay’s documentary tells the story in a straight forward fashion: talking heads, vintage reels and videos of performances and interviews. Adding to the overall fun of the tone, there are crude yet enjoyable animations to illustrate certain aspects of the story. She gets interviews with managers, agents and people who were heavily involved on the journey to fame and fortune…a lot of fortune. It also focuses on the friendship that these two young lads had and the message seems to come across loud and clear.

Both Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd have grown up incredibly since the days of heading to London and being handed almost the keys to the city. They were given a stash of cash and told to enjoy it as long as they produce the goods along the way. The goods never seem to be produced and while they made personal appearances and performed small-ish gigs, nothing was really manufactured the way they manufactured themselves. Now a lot older and having lived the fast life for a good year, where drinking, vomiting and running riot round the streets of London seem a normal part of life, the boys (now men) reflect quite opening on their experiences, most of which they seem to relish and thoroughly enjoy.

There is a hint of sadness among the film as we learn the fate of Bain and Boyd, which makes the film, for me, a much more human story than just watching two out-of-control youngsters sticking one to the music industry. The message is simple: if you have a dream, go for it but don’t expect it to be roses and light all the time.

Anyone with an interest in how the music industry works might not be fully enlightened by this film but those who want to see the music industry being made a complete fool out of by two naive boys who didn’t know that a harmless prank would catapult them from nobodies to somebodies will find a lot of joy out of this. I liked it. I liked Bain and Boyd and I liked the fact that in a world where artists are manufactured all the time, that ordinary people can do a much better job and stick it big time to the man.


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