I heard about Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes 2 weeks ago while listening to Fresh Air on NPR & could not wait for it to air on PBS. Well last week it was on & it blew my mind! This is a must see especially if you have children & are concerned about the images that they may be susceptible to on the radio, BET, MTV & on the streets.

Byron Hurt really broke it down & had many people looking dumb as hell when he asked questions, especially Russell Simmons & Busta Rhymes. This movie needs to open up some serious dialogue amongst parents, media the rap/hip-hop industry.

This is very hard hitting & I hope that some change will come about & I think it is a real wake up call to young Sistas who are out promoting this shit, starring in videos & jumping on the dance floor when this shit comes on.

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About Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhyme

Filmmaker Byron Hurt, a life-long hip-hop fan, was watching rap music videos on BET when he realized that each video was nearly identical. Guys in fancy cars threw money at the camera while scantily clad women danced in the background. As he discovered how stereotypical rap videos had become, Hurt, a former college quarterback turned activist, decided to make a film about the gender politics of hip-hop, the music and the culture that he grew up with. “The more I grew and the more I learned about sexism and violence and homophobia, the more those lyrics became unacceptable to me,” he says. “And I began to become more conflicted about the music that I loved.” The result is HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a riveting documentary that tackles issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip-hop culture.

Sparking dialogue on hip-hop and its declarations on gender, HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes provides thoughtful insight from intelligent, divergent voices including rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation. The film includes interviews with famous rappers such as Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D and Dadaists and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons; along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kevin Powell and Sarah Jones and interviews with young women at Spelman College, a historically black school and one of the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions.

The film also explores such pressing issues as women and violence in rap music, representations of manhood in hip-hop culture, what today’s rap lyrics reveal to their listeners and homoeroticism in hip-hop. A “loving critique” from a self-proclaimed “hip-hop head,” HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes discloses the complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country.
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From the Film

Violence and Hypermasculinity
In HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, author Kevin Powell says, “We live in a society where manhood is all about conquering and violence…. And what we don’t realize is that ultimately that kind of manhood ultimately kills you.” But this preoccupation with violence is not unique to hip-hop culture. As author, teacher and radio host Michael Dyson says, “When you think about American society, the notion of violent masculinity is at the heart of American identity.” From the outlaw cowboy in American history to the hypermasculine thug of gangster rap, violent masculinity is an enduring symbol of American manhood itself. (read more)

Misogyny and Women of Color
Objectified female bodies are everywhere: in advertising images, on magazine covers, and television and movie screens. Presenting a one-dimensional portrayal of male heterosexuality, using the female body as an advertising vehicle limits the ways in which men and women can interact. As Byron Hurt says in HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, “Some people say that it’s just boys being boys, but I think it has a lot to do with boys figuring out early that girls are there for us to sexually objectify or to be our sexual playthings.” (read more)

Homophobia and Hip-Hop
Perhaps the greatest insult that one man could give to another in American culture is to degrade his manhood and, as Michael Dyson says, “to assume that he’s less than a man and to assign him the very derogatory terms that one usually associates with women.” From California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dissing his opponents as “economic girlie men” to rappers insulting each other as “bitch niggas,” this double-edged insult not only disrespects women, but also supports a stereotypical view of masculinity. (read more)

Homoeroticism is prevalent but not often acknowledged in hip-hop culture.

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