SUNDANCE: "Beyond Beats and Rhymes" Review

by | January 26, 2006 | Comments

Hip-Hop Documentary Questions the Future of Music at Sundance.

Sexism and violence do not disqualify popular music from being compelling, or even classic (see Jimmie Rodgers’ "T for Texas," Robert Johnson’s "32-20 Blues"). But filmmaker Byron Hurt’s "Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture" asks rap fans to take a closer look at where hip-hop is headed.

Hurt’s filmmaking techniques in the film are clearly indebted to Michael Moore; he utilizes video and movie clips to make his points, and he’s not afraid to ask tough questions to people like rap mogul Russell Simmons. But unlike Moore, or moralists like C. Delores Tucker, Hurt doesn’t attempt to exempt himself from the discussion, nor is he an uniformed outsider. On camera, he’s upfront about his love of hip-hop, his evolution on issues of sexism and homophobia, and how he’s saddened by the direction he feels his beloved music is taking.

Hurt interviews a number of prominent artists and activists, from Chuck D of Public Enemy to Talib Kweli, who decry the absence of "conscious hip hop" as a subgenre that major corporations don’t believe will sell (many of the artists interviewed are concerned that more cartoonish, stereotypical images of black men make for a safer sales plan, especially to white audiences). And he deftly explores the use of sexist and homophobic language and how it contributes to a limited definition to what it means to be a man.

The film never feels simply like an accusatory diatribe; it’s a sincere examination of the most important pop music of our time. "Beyond Beats and Rhymes" is rap food for thought.

Tag Cloud

Crackle Year in Review TCA 2017 Country docudrama cinemax Cartoon Network Comedy Martial Arts politics Reality Drama Reality Competition TCA VICE Freeform FOX Rocky Action Winter TV Thanksgiving Schedule Sneak Peek Nat Geo period drama 2015 PBS Valentine's Day DirecTV VH1 thriller Character Guide Syfy Esquire Logo science fiction IFC FXX boxoffice Disney Ghostbusters ABC Family Fantasy Cosplay WGN Emmys Marvel Election Interview Calendar Fox News TNT Kids & Family Rom-Com Photos BET 2017 travel crime thriller MTV TBS serial killer adventure Exclusive Video Tumblr sitcom Lifetime Star Wars SundanceTV Holidays The CW Nickelodeon Animation El Rey Video Games ITV LGBTQ ABC History Fall TV Adult Swim Set visit Winners Nominations Infographic Bravo ESPN Polls and Games Tomatazos Music Rock American Society of Cinematographers FX Grammys Hulu President Showtime AMC Masterpiece HBO Superheroes CMT Sci-Fi USA GoT Pirates NYCC CBS cooking comiccon diversity 2016 Toys 007 vampires GIFs Podcast Mystery Universal Awards Extras Pop GLAAD Spring TV Netflix Amazon E! Watching Series 24 frames Premiere Dates Food Network SDCC Trivia First Look TIFF Oscars Certified Fresh Horror Starz sports BBC TV Land discovery BBC America crime drama harry potter Writers Guild of America Countdown Comedy Central dramedy OWN Red Carpet Sundance Best and Worst CNN TruTV PaleyFest DC Comics Disney Channel Musicals social media Trailer CBS All Access singing competition Biopics TCM Marathons Opinion Box Office A&E Lionsgate Summer MSNBC NBC