So as I was driving to my MARC Commuter train stop this morning, I made the rare decision of listening to Shade 45, Eminem’s Sirius XM Radio channel. I almost never listen to the hip-hop stations on Sirius XM as much of what they play is extremely watered down and just ridiculously overcommercialized for my taste. I was pleasantly surprised though when they played Mobb Deep’s “Quiet Storm (Remix)” with Lil’ Kim from their Murda Muzik album. With Prodigy passing away 1 ½ weeks ago, the track kinda hit me in a tender spot. I was also reminded of where I first heard it. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: In Too Deep.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the film in the Summer of 2001, when I purchased it on DVD from Movie Gallery. It had Omar Epps on the cover and I was fascinated with his performances in The Wood and Love & Basketball. It also had LL Cool J on the cover and I dug his character in Deep Blue Sea. It only cost me $14.99 so I copped and watched it at home on my Sony PlayStation 2.
What it meant to me then? The film was an immediate hit for me. It was the epitome of a gritty urban thriller. It was real late 90s, early 2000s type stuff. Having grown up in neighborhoods where there were real-life examples of LL Cool J’s Dwayne “God” Gittens character, I felt like the plot and the script was pretty accurate…the whole kingpin persona, where he portrays himself as a savior to the neighborhood. I felt like other elements of the film were pretty spot on too…like the relationships that Epps’ character had as both Jeff Cole and J. Reid. I thought that the film was greatly enhanced with the casting of Jermaine Dupri, Gano Grills, Shyheim, Sticky Fingaz, Hassan Johnson, and Aunjunae Ellis because they all played characters that I don’t think any other person could’ve played and it have the same effect. Even Hill Harper’s complementary role fit it perfectly with the storyline. As a 16-year-old pizza boy who spent that summer watching the film a good 15 times, I wanted to be Jeff Cole/J. Reid. I wanted to have the clothes he wore. I wanted to have that loving and very passionate relationship he had with Nia Long’s Myra character in his seclusion. I wanted to have the “fitting in” fling he had with Ellis’ Denise character—whom I saw in every day passing for many years in my teens as she represented that hood chick that was only hung around the dudes that were in “the game”. I wanted that baby wolf Cole had in his farmhouse barn. I wanted to drive that Surburban that he drove too. One of the things I remember writing about in Triumphs & Tribulations I regarding the film was the eye candy. You had a young Mýa, a still very beautiful Veronica Webb, Aunjunae Ellis, and Nia Long’s nude silhouette. I was different from most other 16-year-old boys in the Summer of 2001 but I was still a full-blooded male in that sense.
What it means to me now? Today, I watch the film a couple of times a year. Even some 16 years and at least a good 125 viewings later, I still watch the film with the same excitement as I did in July 2001. These days, however, I see it a lot differently. There are certain things I didn’t pick up on as a teenager or even as a 20-something that are front and center for me as a 30-something. Maybe that’s my old soul gene kicking in. There were a lot of lessons I learned from some of the random lines in the script that would’ve been very beneficial to me in my younger days had I really dove deeper into their meanings. All in all, In Too Deep is still one of my Top 10 films ever.