hip hop music

July 11, 2011

Armond White on the "Beats, Rhymes & Life" Documentary

Whatever you may think of Armond White's contrarian hustle as a movie critic I'll always respect him for being one of the very first to do regular & serious writing about hip-hop, back in the 80's at the City Sun (alongside Harry Allen). So I'm glad to see him writing about rap again, even if--as usual--I'm not quite sure how to take his review.

Armond White on the ATCQ Movie

Remember the movie Brown Sugar? Of course you don't. That's because its premise--the culturally unifying love of hip-hop--is not, in itself, sufficient to sustain a movie. The same problem occurs with Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. Director Michael Rapaport (lead actor of the interracial jungle fever movie Zebrahead) professes his generational love of hip-hop without the doc-making "skills" to explain why hip-hop transformed global attitudes toward black youth or why ATCQ personified universal hipsterism during the same era that mainstream media was lionizing grunge...

...Unable to explore psychology, personality or aesthetics, Rapaport has no story to tell. Anvil: The Story of Anvil is the great document about the unifying love of pop music, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster had moments of stark, clear conflict. But Beats, Rhymes & Life is hardly more than a video scrapbook--one with uneven lighting and amateurishly blurry camerawork. Fatally, no unifying structure means it lacks a beat, rhyme and life. Best to revisit ATCQ's several inventive music videos (especially Scenario and Electric Relaxation), the finest documents of a movement... [full review here]

Posted by jsmooth995 at July 11, 2011 5:49 AM

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