The Hip Hop Project

Movies
2 out of 5 stars
This treacly doc follows the story of a youth mentorship program spearheaded by Kazi, the urban teenage mentor you wish every troubled teen could have: empathetic, patient, smart and world-weary. Over four years, he helps a group of aspiring teenage rappers from turbulent backgrounds get their lives and rhymebooks into shape. But are these MCs worth any attention? Just because one has a “positive message” doesn’t mean one can rap. Project tries hard to convince us these are extraordinary rappers—rather than ordinary rappers with extraordinary lives.

There are affecting moments, to be sure: MC Princess writes out rhymes about her abortion in a cramped, squalid apartment; Cannon faces the group the moment his mother dies. But director Ruskin overplays his cards. Using a breathtakingly sleek style, Ruskin tries to will this story into 8 Mile when it’s more Degrassi Junior High.

In keeping with most of the recent misguided hysteria over hip-hop (see Oprah, Russell Simmons), Project suggests that if you mention guns in your lyrics, you don’t have anything worthwhile to say. If this is how you save hip-hop, we’re not sure we’ll keep listening.

By: Matthew Lurie

Posted:

Release details

Rated:
PG-13
Duration:
88 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Matt Ruskin
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