In Justin Tipping’s directorial feature film debut, KICKS, he challenges the false hyper-masculine notion of masculinity that stipulates that to prove your manhood, you have to fight and glorify violence. Within the context of bringing the film’s underlying theme to the big screen, he creates a storyline centered around a 15 year-old’s (played by newcomer Jahking Guillory as Brandon) fixation with his new Air Force Jordan sneakers.
The teen is so enthralled with the accolades that come with looking fresh, and sporting a new pair of kicks that when he gets jumped for them, he goes to extreme lengths to get them back. Director Tipping uses his own narrative as a young teen in the Bay Area to create Brandon’s story. He too was jumped for a pair of sneakers back in the day. The only difference is, he didn’t necessarily lose the sneakers and he certainly didn’t chase his bullies back. Like Brandon and his homies, Rico (Christopher Meyer) and Albert (Christopher CJ Wallace) did just that across the Bay Area.
KICKS is a coming of age story filled with relatable moments for any young man who grow up in an inner city hood. There are basketball courts, trouble-filled parties packed with booze and bud, and many pretty around-the-way girls for the taking. You’ll catch yourself exploding in laughter with Albert and Rico’s clever one-liners and antics. But amid the laughs, violence has an overbearing presence in the film. And it unravels as detrimental black on black crime. To say the least, it’s an interesting thing to observe given the socio-political landscape this country is currently in with all the unfortunate killings of unarmed black people.
VIBE caught up with Tipping on an August afternoon at The Crosby Street Hotel in Downtown Manhattan, where he shares how politics and social awareness all intertwine in KICKS as well as his reasoning for including an astronaut in between all the movie’s must-see scenes. See our sit-down interview down below. KICKS hits theaters today (September 9).