Dope is Death, scored by Ramachandra Borcar, is streaming now on VICE during Black History Month as part of The Short List – a collection of some of the world’s best documentaries, curated by VICE founder Suroosh Alvi. Dope is Death Reveals the untold story of Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of Tupac Shakur, who along with the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, combined community health with radical politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America in 1973 — a visionary project eventually deemed too dangerous to exist in America.
When discussing his dynamic score for the film, Ramachandra stated that “The combination of Yoruba percussion instruments playing traditional rhythms, along with Puerto Rican Bomba & Plena instruments and patterns were meant to represent the two cultures featured in the film, who were both working together to fight for a common cause. Some of the other musical inspirations for the score came from LPs sprouting from independently run jazz labels of the 70s (Strata East, Black Jazz, Tribe, Flying Dutchman…). The grittiness of the Lee “Scratch” Perry and countless other dub artists’ influence was meant to compliment the grainy archival footage used throughout Mia Donovan’s film.”