Don't think for a second that the artists featured in The Run Up (Upper Playground; $19.99) are just another bunch of spray-can-wielding vandals in paint-splattered hoodies.
"I want my paintings to end up in museums, not K-Mart," exclaims Chicago's Dzine–once your garden-variety tagger–as he waxes philosophical on hip-hop's sometimes hypocritical "keep it real" credo. From anarcho-stencil/billboard assassins like Ron English to East L.A. photographer Estevan Oriol, The Run Up examines not only the far-reaching styles of the country's most promising urban decorators, but the motives behind their monumental and provocative works.
The film crashes through graf art's conventional brick walls to distill the essence of these artists' worldviews. Mobile-maker and painter Above's ubiquitous arrow-shaped signs and murals point skyward, revealing the most minute details of urban and rural landscapes, while abstract expressionists like Kofie One, Doze Green, and Logan Hicks (plus more than 20 other artists) search for deeper meaning in the spaces between their culture-jamming signals. "I want a painting to look the way music sounds," Dzine says emphatically. "I want people to get lost in a painting the way they get lost in a good song."