Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

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Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes
Directed byByron Hurt
Produced byByron Hurt and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
Written byByron Hurt
CinematographyBill Winters
Edited bySabrina Schmidt Gordon
Release date
Running time
56 minutes
CountryUnited States

Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes is a 2006 documentary film written, produced, and directed by Byron Hurt. The documentary explores the issues of masculinity, violence, homophobia and sexism in hip hop music and culture, through interviews with artists, academics and fans. Hurt's activism in gender issues and his love of hip-hop caused him to feel what he described as a sense of hypocrisy, and began working on the film.[1][2] The premiere of the film took place at the Sundance Film Festival, being welcomed by a standing ovation.[3] It has also won Best Documentary at the San Francisco Black Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Roxbury Film Festival. On February 20, 2007 the film aired on the PBS Emmy-winning documentary series, Independent Lens.


The film features interviews with many hip-hop artists including Busta Rhymes, Chuck D, Clipse, Doug E. Fresh, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, M-1, Tim'm West, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli.[1][2][3] Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes also features academics such as Dr. James Peterson of Pennsylvania State University, Professor William Jelani Cobb of Spelman College and Michael Eric Dyson of the University of Pennsylvania.[2][4] Activists, journalists and poets such as Kevin Powell and Sarah Jones are also interviewed.

Noted moments[edit]

Of the one-hour documentary, media outlets largely focused on three specific interviews:

Interviews with students of Spelman College regarding a protest against the appearance of Rapper Nelly, who originally contacted the school to have a bone marrow drive take place on campus. The student body asked the rapper to hold a forum to discuss his video "Tip Drill," in which he is seen sliding a credit card down the back side of a woman. In response, the rapper canceled plans to hold the bone marrow drive at the school.[1][2]

An interview with Rapper Busta Rhymes in which the rapper walked out when confronted with a question about homophobia in the rap community. Rhymes is quoted as saying: "I can't partake in that conversation," followed by, "With all due respect, I ain't trying to offend nobody. . . What I represent culturally doesn't condone [homosexuality] whatsoever." When asked if the hip-hop culture would ever accept a homosexual rapper, Busta Rhymes then exited the interview.[3]

To reveal the effect of the commodification of women in hip-hop, Hurt interviewed concertgoers at the BET Spring Fling in Daytona, FL. Hurt was appalled by the actions of black youth at the concert, who were indiscreetly touching and taking videos of women. One young man that was interviewed commented that "Look how they dress” to justify the actions of the men at the event. In this segment of the documentary, Byron claims that the objectification of women in hip-hop lyrics and music videos has taught young men to view women as sex objects for their own personal pleasure.[5]

Many media outlets focused on the interview with activist and rapper, Chuck D of the rap group Public Enemy. The rapper was quoted as stating: "BET is the cancer of black manhood in the world, because they have one-dimensionalized us and commodified us into being a one-trick image. We're [shown] throwing money at the camera; we're flashing jewelry that could give a town in Africa water. We got $160 million contracts, 'cuz we got happy niggas."[1] The rapper also stated a link existed between the sales of hip-hop music to young white Americans, and the amount of pressure on black artists to create more of that content: sex and violence.[1][3][6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Zurawik, David (2007-02-20). "A daring look at hip-hop". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on 2007-02-22.
  2. ^ a b c d Guthrie, Marisa (2007-02-19). "Crimes behind the 'Rhymes'". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 2007-02-22. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |newspaper= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d Richards, Chris (2007-02-19). "A Hip-Hop Fan Hunts the Reason Behind the Rhyme". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
  4. ^ Wiegand, David (2007-02-20). "Academic view of violence and sexism in hip-hop". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
  5. ^ Hurt, Byron. Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhythms. PBS Indies. 2006.
  6. ^ Bigg, Matthew (2007-02-20). "US hip-hop film sparks debate on masculinity". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-03-09.

External links[edit]