I’m a lucky guy. As part of my job this week I was creating a workshop for teens about images of masculinity in the media. Someone I know from the school board asked me if I’d seen Byron Hurt’s documentary, “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” because they now had a copy if I wanted to check it out. Well…I’ve been wanting to see this film since I first heard about it a couple of years ago.
If you have any interest in masculinity, music, hip hop, life as we know it, you should see this film. I was blown away.
Byron Hurt has been educating around gender and masculinity for years but was always sticking up for hip hop music because he loved it so much. At some point he started to feel like a hypocrite for speaking out against sexism but still listening to and supporting artists who spout hateful lyrics. He decided to make this film to explore issues of masculinity, homophobia, violence, and sexism in the musical genre he loves most.
With amazing access to hip hops biggest music producers and some of its biggests stars, as well as academics and activists he tackles these issues head on without being preachy or self-righteous. I was nervous that this film might support, what I see as, racist attacks against hip hop but Hurt addresses this and clearly shows how much of the messaging in music is driven by the industry and money rather than black American culture.
In a society where sexism is almost never addressed in the mainstream, and even more rarely examined in relation to homophobia and race, this film is a must-see and a must-share.