rubble kings poster square
rubble kings poster square

Pass The Popcorn: 'Rubble Kings' Takes Us Back To The Days Of '70s Bronx Gang Wars

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

The streets, alleys, parks and subways of New York City in the 1970s were a truly dangerous place. In recalling those days, many of us might turn to images from Walter Hill's The Warriors, or even the lyrics of Grandmaster Flash's "The Message." But, as rich and genuine as those works may be, at their core they remain artistic interpretations; to recall what was really happening, a bit more digging is needed.

Thankfully, that digging has been done. Last weekend saw the theatrical premiere of Rubble Kings, a new documentary that examines New York gang life in the '70s. Directed by Shan Nicholson, the film is the end result of nearly a decade's worth of work and offers audiences numerous first-hand accounts, along with archival footage, of street gang gatherings, territory fights and insights into how waves of youth violence eventually turned into a movement that pushed back against the city's power structure and, in part, inspired hip-hop. Primarily set in the Bronx, Rubble Kings's story is one of burning tenements, needled veins, patched jackets, bats and, eventually, peace and music.

For those still on the fence, the first five minutes of Rubble Kings has been made available for viewing on line (watch below) and in it we're treated to sirens, funk and soaring shots of New York City (the film's original score was handled by Little Shalimar). We also meet Carlos "Karate Charlie" Suarez and Benji Melendez, who together under their Ghetto Brothers banner schemed to bring about the biggest bloodbath in the city's history. Rubble Kings opens in 1963 as Melendez shares his family's story of moving to the South Bronx and how the Brothers were never meant to be a gang; but then, in New York, things rarely go as planned.

Rubble Kings is a triumph of urban storytelling and hip-hop historicism, and a must-view for any resident of New York City or global fan of street culture. Watch the first five minutes of the film below, and then check out the BitTorrent Bundle below, which allows you to purchase the entire feature, a high-res poster and photos. For those that can't get enough, Okayplayer's past coverage of Rubble Kingsalso features some exclusive clips.