In this movie based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings, up-and-coming manager Russell Walker has all the hottest acts on the record label Krush Groove records, including Run-D.M.C., Dr... See full summary »
Legendary New York graffiti artist Lee Quinones plays the part of Zoro, the city's hottest and most elusive graffiti writer. The actual story of the movie concerns the tension between ... See full summary »
'Lee' George Quinones,
Fab 5 Freddy
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
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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