Review: ‘Straight from the Hood’

Host: Kevin Powell.

Host: Kevin Powell.

With the election over and Tabitha Soren’s favorite candidate in office, MTV kicks off a new cause with “Straight From the Hood,” a pop docu on race relations. It breaks no journalistic ground but plays effectively to the short-attention-span demo.

The docu is part of the music-video web’s “Free Your Mind” campaign of PSAs, which are the sequel to the news division’s hit “Choose or Lose” series. In this latest project, tolerance is the issue and South Central Los Angeles is the first stop on the crusade.

Kevin Powell, former cast member of MTV’s “Real World,” is the host, but he doesn’t figure prominently. First-person accounts by carefully chosen African-American, Latino and white residents of the riot-ravaged “hood” comprise the bulk of this report.

Most revelatory are tales of gang life by men and women who have lived it. Rapper Ice-T weighs in. Mike Concepcion, a founding member of the notorious Crips who went on to unite rappers against gangs, is bluntly informative. So is a young Latina born into an East Los Angeles gang and unable to escape it. “Boyz N the Hood” director John Singleton describes South Central L.A. as a police state.

All of that is fast-cut by producer Rob Fox to a rap/pop backbeat.

This docu is so committed to “positivity” that it never questions remarks of convicted murderers turned preachers of peace. Not even Koreans devastated by looting are allowed politically incorrect thoughts about their looters or predicament, showing that MTV remains more interested in PSA uplift than hard news.

Straight from the Hood

(Wed. (3), 10-11 p.m., MTV)


Taped by MTV News & Specials. Exec producer, Linda Corradina; producer, Rob Fox; supervising producer, Lauren Lazin; directors, Fox, Andrew French; writers, Michael Azzerad, Fox, Lazin, Kevin Powell, Michael Shore.


Editors, Eric Singer, Kerry Soloway.
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