Music Docos to Watch After Stan’s ‘Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine’

In Stan’s March lineup, you’ll find a documentary on the life of controversial American rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine (pronounced six-nine) and his rapid rise and fall. 

Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine details the performer, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, and his experiences with childhood trauma, a broken education system and the gentrification of his Brooklyn, New York neighbourhood — all of which set the stage for him to become hip hop’s greatest villain. 

The story unfolds through emotionally charged interviews and never before heard audio to examine how this 24-year-old man became globally famous, often for the most despicable of reasons. 

The series is narrated by Breaking Bad and Godfather of Harlem star Giancarlo Esposito and investigates how society essentially enabled Hernandez to succeed, despite the fact he plead guilty to the use of a child in a sexual performance after posting a video that showed the alleged assault of a 13-year old girl, beat his girlfriend (and mother of his daughter), and plead guilty to nine felony charges including racketeering conspiracy, weapons possession and armed robbery. 

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While Supervillain is worth a watch if you’re a huge fan of the rapper, or even just interested in the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture, it’s clearly not suited to everyone’s sensibilities. If you’re looking for a documentary that’s a little more music and a little less murder, check out one of these titles. 

Echo in the Canyon

Between 1965 and 1967, Laurel Canyon in California was the heartbeat of the folk music explosion, with artists flocking to the region to create some of the sounds that defined the 60s. 

This documentary examines the influence of musicians like Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas and all of the artists in between who pioneered the quintessential “Cali” sound.

The project was co-produced by Bob Dylan’s son Jakob and features the late Tom Petty’s final interview. Ringo Star, Eric Clapton and Brian Wilson, and contemporary artists such as Norah Jones, Beck and Fiona Apple are just a few of the musicians who feature to reveal their memories of an exhilarating time in music, or how that period later influenced them in their own careers. 

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video 

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Regardless of whether you consider yourself to be a fan of jazz or not, the legacy of Miles Davis is extremely intriguing. The legendary trumpet player is known for being an icon of the era but is often equally defined by his rather volatile personality — the jazz musician had a terrible temper and battled drug addiction for much of his life. 

This documentary delves into his life and career through archival footage and interviews with the people who knew and worked with Davis, who passed away in 1991 at the age of sixty-five. 

The film also highlights the racism Davis endured and the duality he experienced as a wealthy Black man, while so many of his peers languished in the face of the American Dream. 

Where to watch it: Netflix 

Hip Hop Evolution

Over four seasons, Hip Hop Evolution unpacks the birth of one of the most versatile music genres and its impact on popular culture and beyond. 

Without jazz, blues, roots and a plethora of other musical styles, hip hop may never have come to be yet this art form has evolved so far from its origins, with each new decade bringing a fresh slew of artists ready to make their mark on the genre. Simultaneously, it must be noted that, without political tension and ongoing racial injustice in the US, the need for hip hop as a form of self expression may not have been so immediate. 

Hip Hop Evolution features interviews with legends of the game such as Chuck D, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Ice Cube, Russell Simmons and Grandmaster Flash, just to name a few and provides a brilliant insight into a fascinating, and often misunderstood style of music that continues to entertain and surprise.  

Where to watch it: Netflix

Dolly Parton: Here I Am

Honestly, what is there not to love about Dolly Parton? She overcame poverty to become one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, she is refreshingly humble in all of her interviews, she’s a fierce advocate for racial equality and LGBTQIA rights and, in 2020, she donated USD$1 million toward the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

In Dolly Parton: Here I Am director Francis Whately provides an insight into the work ethic and sheer talent that made Parton the global superstar she has become — something the singer aspired to since she was a young girl growing up as one of 12 children in impoverished rural Appalachia. 

The epitome of self-made, Parton proves time and time again why she is one of the greatest artists of all time and this documentary is a brilliant celebration of that. 

Dolly Parton performs during the Billboard Women In Music event on December 10, 2020.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two

This incredibly raw documentary was filmed as Lady Gaga recorded her fifth studio album, Joanne while also dealing with a recurring hip injury and the pain of fibromyalgia and preparing for her performance at the 2017 Super Bowl. 

Gaga, real name is Stefani Germanotta, has never been one to shy away from sharing herself — whether through her music or in interviews — but this film offers viewers a more intimate glimpse into the experiences of one of the world’s most famous women. 

Perhaps most interestingly, is Gaga’s reflections on the misogyny of the music industry and the tendency of male producers to insist or insinuate that female artists would be nothing without them.  

“Since those men have so much power, they can have women in a way that no other men can,” the singer says in one scene. “And then I walk in the room, and it’s like eight times out of 10, I’m put in that category, and they expect from me what those girls have to offer, when that’s just not at all what I have to offer. That’s not what I’m here for.”

Where to watch it: Netflix

Daft Punk Unchained

If you are still reeling from the news that Daft Punk have parted ways after 28 years, then you can always re-live the good times by way of this documentary that chronicles the rise of one of the most influential dance acts of all time. 

Starting in the early 90s with their first group, Darlin’, and working up to the Grammy Awards in 2014 when they stole the stage, viewers learn how the artists built their music, their image and all aspects of their inspiration. 

Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo have chosen to execute their careers from behind robot masks but, through interviews with collaborators such as Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, plus old interview footage and some clever filmmaking, the mysterious duo almost start to feel within reach. Almost. 

Where to watch it: YouTube 

Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell

Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls aka The Notorious B.I.G. aka Big Poppa (you get the gist) had only released one album at the time of his murder at 24-years-old. And, yet, his impact on the hip-hop music scene has remained undeniably impactful, if not controversial.

Featuring interviews with Biggie’s mother Voletta and his friend and collaborator Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, I Got a Story to Tell endevaours to unpack the life of a man who was certainly no saint, but to millions, his music was heaven sent.

Where to watch it: Netflix

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