Up From the Underground begins with the birth of music television, and its resultant frustrations and exultations as articulated by the artists who perhaps benefited from video the most. The show quickly and adeptly picks up on MTV's early (and obviously racist) failure to play any African-American artists, and the accompanying interviews with KRS-One and Chuck D adroitly skewer the channel's inappropriate status quo. Many seminal videos are breezily covered (Devo's "Whip It," Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," to name a few), but it is the attention to hip hop that is the best feature of the installment. Major influences from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to Kurtis Blow and the groundbreaking Run-DMC trace the hip hop style and culture from its New York progenitors to its West Coast practitioners, with the vast majority of the best commentary coming from the aforementioned spokesmen for Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy. By no means authoritative, Up From the Underground is still worth a look.
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