The Rise and Fall and Rise of Sensational
Redstone Room @ RME
Friday, Aug 25
“The Rise and Fall and Rise of Sensational” chronicles the life and music of Colin Julius Bobb, aka Sensational. Described as part rapper, part genius, part extraterrestrial, Sensational is known to be one of the most bizarre and paradoxical characters in hip-hop music. As a consummate artist living completely in his own reality, Sensational’s creative brilliance, self-destructive tendencies, and unique world view are exposed in this comical yet moving documentary.
As a frenetic Brooklyn teenager, Sensational began recording experimental hip-hop in the early ‘90s with old-school greats the Jungle Brothers and noted producer Bill Laswell. As a promising young solo artist poised to become underground hip-hop’s next big thing, he worked with well-known independent labels and toured internationally, but his early success led him down a path of ‘irrational exuberance’ that involved excessive partying and crack-cocaine addiction. He eventually lost everything he owned and was forced to live on the streets.
The camera picks up with Sensational in 2004 after he has been homeless for two years. His day-to-day existence consists of hustling his talent in the streets, as well as the clubs, and recording studios of New York City. Although he kicks the crack habit, he drinks excessively and is perpetually broke. Throughout this dismal period he manages to record music by collaborating with other artists, but longs for his own equipment to make his extraordinary beats. The drinking problem escalates and his friends and peers contemplate how out-of-control his life has become. Things get so bad, he is routinely sent to the Bellevue psychiatric ward for public intoxication.
In 2006, Sensational discovers the Internet, reconnects with his fans via MySpace, and finds ways to make money from his craft. He records prolifically online and teams up with producers from overseas, where his popularity has never diminished. Empowered by support from his growing international audience, he attempts to clean up his act and put obscurity behind him.
“The Rise and Fall and Rise of Sensational” blends current footage, stock footage, vintage music videos, and Super 8 film to visually illustrate Sensational’s creative persona. Colleagues, collaborators, and fans such as Laswell, Mike G from the Jungle Brothers, WordSound owner and music journalist Skiz Fernando, and Curver Thoroddsen from the Icelandic band Ghostigital weigh in on the rapper’s ingenuity and unorthodox working methods. But it’s the soundtrack, culled from Sensational’s extensive catalog, that truly weaves the story together. And, of course, the always unpredictable, often hilarious comments of the man himself.
Five years in the making, “The Rise and Fall and Rise of Sensational” is a riotous, visually seductive, and thematically inspirational portrait of an eccentric musician who defies all explanations and proves that believing in your own talent is the only option.