Review: ‘Hip Hop Hope’

Galvanized by the events of 9/11, NYC underground artists are supposedly in the process of "flipping the script on hip-hop" and infusing it with a message of hope to save the world. What follows in this docu is a long, disjointed rap video whose humorless stridency is matched only by its unrelenting lack of focus.

Galvanized by the events of 9/11, NYC underground artists are supposedly in the process of “flipping the script on hip-hop” and infusing it with a message of hope to save the world. What follows in this docu is a long, disjointed rap video whose humorless stridency is matched only by its unrelenting lack of focus.

With so many well-crafted, articulate explorations of hip-hop culture making the rounds (such as “Scratch” and rival Tribeca entry “Breath Control”), outlook seems dismal, unless the 9/11 hook itself proves overriding.

Fault lies not with the 17 or so artists interviewed, who occasionally wax quite eloquent, but in producer-director-lenser Darrell Wilks’ desire to push too many buttons at once, sending out impassioned declarations with no apparent structure or point. People are insistently filmed against symbolic backgrounds — at Ground Zero or near a Superman window display — that scream irony or despair at exactly the same decibel level. Worse, as the film uniformly piles on the featured rappers’ perfectly understandable disillusionment with what hip-hop has become, and their desire to connect it back to its community roots, the criticism begins to smack of sour grapes.

Hip Hop Hope

Docu

Production

A Mineral Palace Production. Produced by Darrell Wilks. Executive producer, Valerie Cates. Co-producers, Linda Rafoos, Cecil Hooker. Directed by Darrell Wilks.

Crew

Camera (color, video) Wilks; editor, Sandrine Cheyrol; music, Wendell Hanes. Reviewed on video in New York, April 25, 2002. (In Tribeca Film Festival.) Running time: 62 MIN.

With

Emilio "Stretch" Austin Jr., Caridad "La Bruja" De La Luz, Alex "Raze" Duverglas, Tanya "Flow" Fields, Chico Garcia, Revanne "16 Bars" Green, Baruch "Baba" Israel, Jacquelyn "Dutchess" McClain, Daniel "Dpone" Pinero, Gabriel Portvondo, Sean "Omni" Robinson, Alexander "Zander" Scott, Jacques "Ques" Tassy, Vernon "Dyverse" Wooten.
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