Although he occasionally errs on the side of overstating the obvious, filmmaker Byron Hunt offers some provocative morsels of food for thought in "Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture."

Although he occasionally errs on the side of overstating the obvious, filmmaker Byron Hunt offers some provocative morsels of food for thought in “Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture.” Free-form, first-person docu is an ambitious collage of revealing interviews and pop-culture overviews, employed to illustrate Hurt’s meditation on the uglier aspects of hip-hop culture. Brief but cogent pic likely will get ample fest play before airing next year on PBS.

Hurt takes pains to express his fondness for rap and hip-hop. Even so, however, he repeatedly questions the seemingly ubiquitous expressions of misogyny, homophobia and exploitative ultra-violence in the lyrics (and music videos) of artists as diverse as Nelly, 50 Cent and Jadakiss. Academics, feminists and even a few hip-hoppers weigh in on the issues, most of them confirming Hurt’s worst suspicions about attitudes and ambitions shaped and encouraged by hip-hop. One interviewee likens gangster-rapper stereotypes to demeaning depictions of African-Americans in D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation.” Which may explain, Hurt suggests, that according to some experts, 70% of mainstream hip-hop is consumed by young white men.

Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture

Production

An Independent Television Service and God Bless the Child Prods. co-production in association with the National Black Programming Consortium. Produced by Byron Hurt, Sabrina Gordon. Executive producers, Stanley Nelson, Sally Jo Fifer. Directed, written by Byron Hurt.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Bill Winters; editor, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Jan. 14, 2006. (In Sundance Film Festival -- Spectrum.) Running time: 56 MIN.

With

Narrator: Byron Hurt.
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