Review by Hunter MieleMusic has had the ability to bring people together since the dawn of its creation. No one is a stranger to finding like-minded friends and social groups via a shared musical taste. And oftentimes, when we think of political activism and social reform we’re reminded of some of our favorite, hard-hitting rock or hip-hop tunes. But music’s ability to enact change and bring people together goes much deeper than a protest song. “Mixtape Trilogy: Stories of the Power of Music” explores the relationship between musicians and their fans and how music can bring about change in ways that most of us are unaware of.
“Music is not so much a function of sound, but more a function of interaction”. “Mixtape Trilogy”’s opening line sums up the documentary’s message broadly and sets the stage for the exploration of a fun and interesting concept. The film is composed of three individual stories, each describing the relationship between a musical artist and one of their fans.
We’re first introduced to Dylan, a fan of the musical duo Indigo Girls. “Fan” may be an understatement: Dylan has attended over 350 Indigo Girls concerts. She explains that the content of the band’s lyrics were so relatable to her that she became a superfan almost immediately after being introduced to them. Today, the Indigo Girls are well known for being openly gay and supportive of political efforts to ensure the rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community. When Dylan first heard their music, she wasn’t yet out as a gay woman. The band’s passionate melodies and inspirational lyrics gave her the confidence and motivation to live authenticity, despite the stigma surrounding homosexuality at the time. Dylan’s dedication to the band spawned a relationship between herself and the band’s members, and today they’re close friends. The interview not only describes the impact that the music had on helping Dylan get in touch with her identity, but it also showcases the positive change and social reform that the band’s messages helped spawn over the course of decades.
Next we meet Garnette, a writer originally from Kingston, Jamaica. Garnette describes how his passion for music came from exploring the city streets of Kingston as a child. The interview is cut with scenes of Jamaica in the 70’s, rife with music and vibrance. We can’t help but feel a bit of second-hand nostalgia on Garnette’s behalf when we hear the lively reggae and see the crowds in the street all dancing with perfect rhythm in their bell bottoms and platform shoes. Garnette eventually moves to New York City and meets Vijay Iyer. Vijay, a jazz pianist, recounts his unconventional experience as an Asian-American in a predominantly black music scene and how Garnette’s friendly support and talents as a writer helped to bridge the gap between different racial groups in the world of New York jazz.
Finally, we’re introduced to Micheal. Micheal is an architect and a hip-hop enthusiast living in Detroit, Michigan. He’s particularly interested in the music of rapper Talib Kweli. Talib Kweli- like many hip-hop and rap artists- is known for lyrics that chronicle the struggles of life in the inner city. Micheal describes how his love of hip-hop and his career as an architect inspired him to create a day camp for kids: “The Hip-Hop Architect Camp”. Micheal teaches the kids urban planning and design while referring to lyrics that illustrate the hardships of city life in order to plan a city that can better sustain the community. The concept is unique and the interview instills a feeling of hopefulness for the future.
“Mixtape Trilogy” does an excellent job at narrowing down a broad topic into three entertaining and uplifting stories that celebrate both music and social reform. Although the consistent interview style throughout the film can make it feel long winded at times, the subject matter is original and fun and can easily keep viewers engaged. It would be difficult not to think back to “Mixtape Trilogy” the next time you hear a piece of music that inspires you.
Releasing Digitally February 7th.
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