If there ever was a checklist for creating music documentaries, Player Hating: A Love Story would meet it with no questions asked. The pulsating introduction of this movie gives promise of live shows, life in recording studios and one-on-one interviews with an entire hip-hop entourage about everything from fancy cars to what they ate for breakfast. Discerning audiences, however, can be thankful that this documentary about Half-a-Mill and his crew delivers much more than the average hip-hop fan expects.
On the surface, one street hustlers’ quest to launch his music career and provide a better life for himself away from selling drugs is where Player Hating: A Love Story sets its tone for what comes afterward — an uncensored look at the results of poverty and violence that plague several generations of people who grew up in the projects. There are no studio-gangsters, private jets and caviar in this movie, instead, a gritty look into the mindsets of young men who balance complicated family dynamics with the pressures of making ends meet in an environment that is not conducive to either resource — legally, that is.
Half-a-Mill is quick to point out, however, that being successful is all about one’s frame of mind and having a support system can help regardless of whether it comes from blood or water. The gangs, gunshots, corporate drama and police harassment does not stop this determined man from realizing his goals, which are to make sure that his debut album makes waves but more importantly, money. Shunning a hopeless outlook on his life circumstances in favor of more positive actions, however, does not mean that Half-a-Mill or his crew are able to avoid being seconds away from death at the hands of a friend or foe.
If there is one lesson to learn from watching Player Hating: A Love Story, it is that anyone can pursue their dreams even in the midst of dire circumstances. The movie also shows how music can be powerful enough to transform lives by helping people channel negative energy into something productive that benefits their families and possibly the communities that they serve. Player Hating: A Love Story captures a triumphant, yet bittersweet reality of the high price that many men pay to create a brighter future for themselves when no one is promised tomorrow. The movie may be a homage to both the inspirational and the grimey sides of Brooklyn but it has lots more to offer audiences no matter what side of the bridge or nation they’re from.
Player Hating: A Love Story is a film by Maggie Hadleigh-West, and was awarded the 2010 Indie Fest “Audience Impact Award.” Player Hating: A Love Story” makes it New York City debut on April 6, 2012 through April 12, 2012 at Quad Cinema (34 W. 13th St.) as well as Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14, 2012 at Indie Screen (289 Kent Ave., Williamsburg). For more information on the film, visit www.yomaggie.com/playerhating.html
Nicole Ayers is a filmmaker who writes at The Madlab Post (www.madlabpost.com). Her current projects include the Madlab Movie Mixtape tour. She can also be found discussing films on Twitter (@MadlabPost).