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Parents' Guide to

Rhyme & Reason

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Relevant hip-hop docu; language, some drug use and talk.

Movie R 1997 89 minutes
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This is an interesting capsule of a time and place that's still relevant in both good and bad ways. Rhyme & Reason is a documentary on hip-hop artists from 1997 that interviews many now-legends who were in the prime of their careers, as well as some who died much too soon. It's a fascinating time in that hip-hop had clearly moved beyond the "fad" some had predicted it to be when rap first emerged on the national stage with acts like Run DMC in the 1980s, and had, like punk around the same time, become an industry and culture unto itself that still had "street cred" even as it was becoming a multi-billion-dollar global phenomenon. Success, and not entirely expected success, is also a topic that comes up with some of the more successful artists, as they talk of loyalty to where they're from while having the financial freedom to live wherever they please.

As said above, it's also sadly relevant in other ways. Institutional racism, racism directly experienced, gun violence, crime, the strained relations between communities of color and the police -- these topics come up time and time again in the documentary, topics obviously still discussed so many years later in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing and the Black Lives Matter movement. Rhyme & Reason manages to cover a lot of ground and interview a wide array of artists in a little over 90 minutes, and while perhaps some of it isn't saying anything new that hip-hop fans don't already know, it's still a solid documentation of the state of hip-hop on the verge of the turn of the 20th century.

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