7.7/10
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6 user 17 critic

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme (2000)

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A documentary about freestyling--the improvised, on-the-spot rhymes that demonstrate the skills of hip-hop MCs.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Himself (archive footage)
Planet Asia ...
Himself
Bahamadia ...
Herself
...
Himself (as Mos Def)
Akim Funk Buddah ...
Himself
Eluard Burt ...
Himself
Myo Campbell ...
Himself
John Coltrane ...
Himself (archive footage)
Darkleaf ...
Himself
Kirby Dominant ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Freestyle Fellowship ...
Themselves
Lord Finesse ...
Himself
Kevin Fitzgerald ...
Himself (voice)
Richard Fox
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Storyline

From neighborhood ciphers to the most notorious MC battles, "Freestyle: the Art of Rhyme" captures the electrifying energy of improvisational hip-hop--the rarely recorded art form of rhyming spontaneously. Like preachers and jazz solos, freestyles exist only in the moment, a modern-day incarnation of the African-American storytelling tradition. Shot over a period of more than seven years, it is already an underground cult film in the hip-hop world. The film systematically debunks the false image put out by record companies that hip-hop culture is violent or money-obsessed. Instead, it lets real hip-hop artists, known and unknown, weave their story out of a passionate mix of language, politics, and spirituality. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Music

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 April 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Freestyle  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$4,842 (USA) (16 July 2004)

Gross:

$11,255 (USA) (23 July 2004)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Directors Cut)
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Connections

Features Arena: Beat This!: A Hip Hop History (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Promising but lacking depth
7 December 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This documentary had so much to offer. Unfortunately, it didn't push forward and deliver what it could have. Hip hop heads will leave this film knowing a few more names or stories about underground hip hop but the history lesson ends there.

Documentaries, for the most part, are made to expose a niche. To show others its esoteric quality. While Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme begins to scratch at the surface, it barely leaves a mark. The history of hip hop and its origins in the Bronx are passed over as though everyone in the audience were a hip hop connaisseur. The other aspects of hip hop (graffiti, break dancing and DJing) are mentioned in passing as though it had no correlation to Freestyling.

The Art of Rhyme is simply a fan's video of favourite MCs and friends freestyling and battling in the streets. The psychology of freestyle rhyme, of battles and its roots (some historians date it back to the days of slavery) are muted by the redundant scenes of freestyle artists rhyming for the camera, hoping for exposure.

While showing actual freestyling is essential for the film, too much of it just dilutes the artistic and historically-significant aspect of Hip Hop. Most importantly, its lack of depth confirms what narrow-minded critics have said for years about Hip Hop music and its generation.


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