Straight from the Projects 2
~ C-Murder
Studio: Remag Productions / Image
Release Year: 2004
Directed By: Stephen Belafonte
Running Time: 48 minutes

This DVD is the second installment in the Straight from the Projects series; which follows street emcees back to their old stomping grounds. Hosted by rap legend Ice-T, Straight from the Projects 2 features New Orleans star Corey "C-Murder" Miller; and follows his return to the place that birthed him: the Big Easy’s notorious 3rd Ward.

Straight from the Projects 2 opens with one gangster (Ice-T) introducing another (C-Murder); and along with clearing the floor for the film's subject, Iceberg also handles the segues, along with the between-scenes narration. Then C-Murder takes over; and with cameras in tow, Murder hits each of the 3rd Ward's housing projects: Calliope (Kal-ee-yope), Magnolia, and Melphomine (Melf-oh-meen). Starting with his home the Calliope Projects - or CP3 - Murder shows us the many sides of his 'hood; both good (the community's vibrancy, the brotherly bond amongst friends) and bad (commonplace violence, poverty, etc). Reality sinks in almost immediately; as C-Murder chats with a homie on camera, and then we learn that same friend was later killed in CP3. Next, Murder hits the Magnolia Projects (MP3), the base of New Orleans icons Juvenile and Soulja Slim. It gets even deeper in Magnolia, as the cameras show locals brandishing automatic weapons; an adolescent boy spits a shockingly violent freestyle; and yet another young man's screen image is blurred with an "R.I.P." graphic.

In the next sequence, Ice-T takes a pause for sage reflection: theorizing on the prevalence of guns, both in the ghetto and on gangsta rap records. We're then shown the 3rd Ward's gun culture; with locals displaying their weaponry, and addressing the dangers that force them to stay locked and loaded.

As this DVD illustrates, there's palpable peril in the Big Easy, but it's not all bad, though. In the middle of the film, C-Murder shows us how N.O. really gets down; as he hits New Orleans night spot Rhythm City, and he and his crew get crunk after dark, and get their groove on with other club-goers. Then it's on to the lake, where Murder's friends congregate and do a little motorbike racing; and, later, Murder hits the CP3 again, for a project party that runs well into the morning. But the good times end, however, during the PJ's annual Second Line Parade, where shots ring out as the cameras roll, and 3 people die in the process.

As the film concludes, C-Murder takes us to his crib: a 2-bedroom, top-floor apartment in the Calliope Projects. It's more than a bit interesting to see C-Murder, self-made man and brother of multi-millionaire Master P, keeping a residence in the 'hood. And the charismatic Soulja Slim helps close it out; taking us back to Magnolia to chop game once more, and C-Murder then speaks on the common bond between him and Magnolia Slim.

Straight from the Projects 2 affects you in many ways. First off, it's unsettling (to say the least) to see the mayhem and drama that unfolds every day in these housing projects; turmoil that's all too common in inner cities across the U.S. But it's also touching to see the strength, resilience, and spirit of the people of 3rd Ward, who soldier on no matter what life throws at them. As usual, the Original Gangster (Ice-T) is engaging; keeping the story moving along crisply, and adding dimension and insight with his narration and viewpoints. And C-Murder does a great job as the 3rd ward ambassador: building with his people, and giving us an in-depth look at his life, and what made him the man he is.

Straight from the Projects 2 is an engrossing documentary; but, unfortunately, it comes to us with a tragic epilogue. James "Soulja Slim" Tapp, the favorite son of the Magnolia Projects, was gunned down shortly after this film was finished; ambushed in front of his mother's New Orleans home on November 26, 2003. If you want to see the life that inspires the rap lyrics you hear, check out Straight from the Projects 2. You’ll see firsthand that it's not a game.

Review by Syd Caesar

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