Parents' Guide to

Hip-Hop Evolution

By Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Frank, fascinating history of a music genre, culture shift.

TV Netflix Drama 2016
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For teens and adults who love rap music, or for anyone interested in the creation of new art forms, this is a terrific documentary. It shows how in the early days of hip-hop, it was part community organizing against gang violence, part alternative to disco party. Later rap became a freedom-of-speech lightning rod, as the Justice Department accused rappers of inciting violence, while gangsta artists said they were simply portraying their real lives. Hip-Hop Evolution explains how artists used music "as a weapon against oppression."

On the flip side, rap as house-party anthems for "drinking, smoking, girls, and forget about your problems" is also portrayed with little context about negative impacts of drug and alcohol glorification. One other disappointment: the lack of female voices in a documentary about a genre to whose development women artists also contributed and which has been criticized as misogynistic. Overall, though, Hip-Hop Evolution is an entertaining, informative look back at a culture-changing genre.

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