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.