Quick Film Guide: What’s Up, Fatlip? (Spike Jonze, 2003)

In 2003, Fatlip released a single titled “What’s Up, Fatlip?” about the horrors of getting older and coming to terms with the harsh realities of life. This self-lacerating track was accompanied by a memorable video by director Spike Jonze, mixing reality and fiction and shot in the guerrilla style that was quite trendy at the time.

During the filming, Jonze decided to shoot a spontaneous, candid documentary with the hip-hop artists. Whether between takes or on the way to the different shooting locations, the former Pharcyde member opens up about his career in a relaxed and disarmingly honest way, whether retracing his career up to that point, talking about the inspiration about his latest cut and recalling some events in his personal life that left a mark on him creatively.

What’s Up, Fatlip? is no biographical documentary and that is, perhaps, what makes it such a special, priceless and profoundly real. Jonze delights in documenting Fatlip, who is completely at ease in front of the camera and willing to reveal less-than-glamorous aspects of his life and music career, like having to ride a bus despite his videos being on MTV or recalling a personal incident involving a transvestite.

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