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Turn it Up Turn it Up

Initially entitled "Ghetto Superstar", Turn it Up is a leadened hip/hop gangsta drama that follows its characters as they attempt to go legit and become rap stars.  With leading work from popular rap stars, Paras and Ja Rule, that is as listless as their dialogue, this weak infusion of Belly and Purple Rain may have those interested in guns and music opting for at least a dose of more tolerable reality as in the Tupac-like artist's concurrent docu/concert film, Backstage.

Pras' Diamond or D, feeling impeded in getting his music completed to his liking while struggling for time in the studio with recording producer and coke user Bad (Chris Messina), just isn't cutting it, and forthright girlfriend Kia (Tamale Jones) wants him away from loose cannon but loyal partner Gage (Goral).

Not a patient dude, Gage is the impetus behind money laundering for a deceptive crime boss, Jason Statham's dapper Brit, Mr. B, or just B.  An early transaction with Chinese dealers abounds in claustrophobic explosive gunfire which gives Turn it Up its Belly underside and the means to subsidize his remastered disc.

Diamond lives for his music and pulls his weapon on Gage to show what he means.  D is angry with his piano playing dad, Cliff (Vondie Curtis Hall), who wants him to walk away from his music for a better life.  To complicate matters Kia becomes pregnant.

Hall and Jones are far superior to and can't support the bland Paras.  Like Backstage the music here is too intermittent even with some crackling power from the duo, whom Kia calls Batman and Robin.  Ja Rule has the heavy, hard edged type down, but the film calls more attention to the shallow tale shot mostly at night in Toronto and hip/hop, rather than its performers whose talents are wasted and barely visible in a gloomy crime drama which could have turned up more music in its ritzy nightclubs.

Turn it Up

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