In a newly released Beats Music special, Spike Lee and a handful of cast and crew members break down the making of the seminal movie on the block it was filmed. Chronicling the current landscape of the neighborhood, the construction of the set, and key points in the plot, Lee and several others detail the summer-long production filmed 26 years ago.
“This takes place on the hottest day of the summer,” Lee said of the film’s narrative while speaking with actor Danny Aiello. “We shot in the summer of ‘88. I said, ‘When people come to the theaters in the summer of ‘89 and they’re watching this in the air-conditioned theatre, we still want them sweating.’”
Bill Nunn, the actor behind the character Radio Raheem, also recalled the experience of playing a role directly affected by police brutality. “As far as acting goes, that was one of the more real experiences I had,” he said. “It was as close to real as you wanna get.”
The Beats Music documentary also chronicles this year’s June 28 block party celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary. Besides some of the actors featured in the film, the block party featured appearances from artists like Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Dave Chappelle, DJ Scratch, DJ Spinna, Wesley Snipes, and more.
When asked about the call to provide the movie’s main track, Chuck D described the task. “You were putting together a film that spoke to all the inequities of the New York City area and asked us to come along and make an anthem for it,” he said. “We were honored with the task.”
Speaking with Keith Shocklee, Spike Lee asked about the production on the song itself.
“You wanted a theme song, an anthem,” Keith said. “An anthem theme song that was very powerful. I did the crazy track, played it for Chuck. Chuck came back and said, ‘Yo man, I got the anthem for this.’ We wanted to make sure you had the dopest joint on the block and you had it.”
The Beats Exclusive documentary also includes appearances from Rosie Perez, Luis Ramos, production designer Wynn Thomas, and a handful of current residents of the block.
In June, President Obama and Michelle Obama congratulated Spike Lee on the anniversary of the movie and admitted that it was the backdrop to their first date.