Rapper's Delight

Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. This was not a deep film. But Pokafase appreciates its message. "I liked the theme: Be yourself," he says. Crazy as it sounds, Poke seems to find in the goofy B-Rad's issues with authenticity an apt metaphor for some of his own struggles. After all, he may be a rising star, but he's still a rapper from Phoenix.

"There are advantages and disadvantages to it. In a city like L.A., there are 10 times the competitors. Of course, no one's like Pokafase," he says with a grin.

But besides the big fish in a small pond thing, Poke says there's a novelty about a black rapper from the desert that seems to be helping him break out. "Good music speaks for itself. And there's a curiosity about Phoenix. I like spreading the word, letting people know that we're not all just about saloons and cactus."

In his hometown, Pokafase says he's likely to perform in front of an audience that's more diverse than one he'd get in Detroit or Chicago. The rapper says he runs into B-Rads daily, white kids who act and talk like they've been raised on BET.

"You see a lot of that. Folks that aren't black who have grown up in the hip-hop culture. And now that hip-hop is driving popular culture, there's almost a hypocritical thing that happens when people question whether people are acting black.' They aren't acting black, they're just immersed in hip-hop. This generation growing up is as real as it comes. Because they grew up on it," he says.

"There was a point when a movie poking fun at hip-hop culture would have been completely rejected," Pokafase says, admitting that a few of Kennedy's antics made him uncomfortable. "His character was so overdone, though, it was funny. I thought it was cool. Now that hip-hop's become such a monster, it can handle being made fun of."

Unfortunately, Malibu's Most Wanted has to wrap up its unlikely plot with a typical Hollywood "moment of shit" -- Dad's gotta tell B-Rad that he loves him just the way he is, of course. But at least this reconciling is done with ghetto thugs holding their semiautomatics on one side of the room, aimed at B-Rad's Malibu wanna-be friends holding a spear gun, shoulder-mounted missile and blunderbuss on the other. No one ends up hurt. But a Hummer is destroyed.

Well, that's a start, anyway.

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