An independent filmmaker has crafted a film that enlists the likes of Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, Russell Simmons, and activists such as Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, and aspiring Congressional candidate Kevin Powell, who offer earnest critique about Hip-Hop lifestyle.
Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Rap Music is a 2006 Sundance Film Festival selection that was produced and directed by Byron Hurt, a gender violence prevention educator.
With his film, Hurt is bent on confronting the societal concerns and community interests as it pertains to the influential culture.
"My film challenges the idea that in order to be a successful rapper in Hip-Hop you have to be hard, tough, violent, sexist, and homophobic," Hurt told AllHipHop.com. "I've shown this film to audiences all over the country, and the first thing people say to me afterward are 'Thank you so much for making this film' or, 'This film needs to be seen everywhere, especially in the hood.'"
Beyond Beats and Rhymes made its debut in New York City last night at the "Sundance at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Film Series" and will offer more screenings on May 19 and 21. Additionally, the acclaimed film will air nationally on PBS in early 2007.
Hurt also said that while his movie has been years in the making, the subject matter and examination are only becoming more relevant.
"The recent shooting deaths of Proof, Busta Rhymes' bodyguard Israel Ramirez, T.I.'s personal assistant Philant Johnson, as well as rapper Gravy getting shot in the butt outside of New York's Hot 97 sadly reminds us in the Hip-Hop community [that] manhood and Hip-Hop are too closely associated with senseless violence," Hurt continued. "Morning shock jock Star's comments directed toward D.J. Envy's wife and daughter, which led to his well-publicized firing at New York City's Power 105.1, clearly reveal that some men's attitudes about girls and women in mainstream Hip-Hop are raging out of control."
While the 60-minute film examines Hip-Hop, it doesn't ignore the overall scope of the Black male experience in the United States, as it addresses misogyny, violence, and homophobia.
"I know that Byron's current project on Hip-Hop is close to his heart. It reflects his on-going effort to use film to address essential concerns on the intent and impact of popular youth culture," said filmmaker Orlando Bagwell in a statement. "His film will pose fundamental questions about how Hip-Hop culture represents and expresses basic attitudes in our society about love, violence, and compassion."
The Brooklyn Academy of Music is screening the film.
To see a short on the film, visit www.BHurt.com.