Director: Byron Hurt
Byron Hurt takes on a daring task in the course of his 56-minute documentary: deconstructing sexism, violence and masculinity in hip-hop. Hurt goes well beyond the scope of most hip-hop documentaries, choosing to expose a tender nerve that desperately needs prodding.
The filmmaker's aim is ambitious, and his methods are undeniably effective. In a key scene, Hurt asks Busta Rhymes about his thoughts on homophobia, and Busta says, "I can't partake in that conversation." When further prompted about whether hip-hop culture could ever accept a gay rapper, he walks out.
It's not just what isn't being said that the film exposes; ultimately, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes seeks to bring awareness to the existing issues in hip-hop cultures that will be stumbling blocks in its future, particularly in the way it's viewed by the world.
At least one rapper agrees. "We're [shown] throwing money at the camera and flashing jewelry at the camera that could give a town in Africa water for a year," observes Public Enemy's Chuck D. But if the first step to change is acknowledging the problem, Hurt has given hip-hop a positive push in the right direction.