Hip Hop Uncovered

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
Hip Hop Uncovered TV Poster Image
Ambitious music docu features violence, drugs, gangs.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Hip Hop Uncovered features messages about entrepreneurship and ingenuity, aspiring to make a better life, and finding the strength to forgive one's self for past mistakes.

Positive Role Models

Subjects featured are talented, aspirational, charismatic, and successful entrepreneurs. Black culture is celebrated.

Violence

Violence is a major subject of Hip Hop Uncovered, and talks at length about the subjects' criminal backgrounds. Gunplay, assault, and murder are all discussed and seen in archival footage.

Sex

Sex is sometimes discussed in graphic terms in interviews and song lyrics.

Language

Profanity is used throughout and includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," etc. The word "nigga" is also used frequently.

Consumerism

Artists, songs, albums, and record labels are discussed throughout the series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug sales are a major topic in Hip Hop Uncovered, and drugs including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin are discussed at length. Alcohol and smoking are also discussed and occasionally seen in archival photos and footage.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hip Hop Uncovered is a documentary that focuses on some of the lesser-known names behind the scenes in the music business. The documentary tells the stories of several hip hop entrepreneurs, from their childhoods in the 1970s to the present day. Growing up in poverty is a major throughline of the documentary, and the interviewees discuss their experiences with violence, drugs, and street gangs at length. Gun violence and other violent acts are described in detail and shown in archival footage, as are drug sales and drug use. Profanity is used throughout and includes "f--k,". "s--t," "bitch," etc. The word "nigga" is also used frequently. The documentary puts selling drugs and gang banging into a cultural and historical context, providing a cultural history, and specifically a history of Black culture in United States, alongside the history of hip hop music. It tells crime stories with empathy, respect, and even humor, seeking to understand urban crime as a complex subject rather than condemning or condoning it.

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What's the story?

HIP HOP UNCOVERED is a documentary series that tells the stories of some of the biggest behind-the-scenes forces in hip hop music. The series focuses on five entrepreneurs -- Southern California's Big U; Queens natives Deb and Bimmy; Detroit's Trick Trick; and Brooklyn's Haitian Jack -- and tells each of their stories, from their childhoods in the 1970s to their adult lives in the music industry. Along the way, Hip Hop Uncovered digs into Black American history; some of the local histories of Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York City; and the history of hip hop music itself, which has helped bring Black American stories to the forefront of popular culture.

Is it any good?

Many music documentaries simply intend to market the artists they cover, even if they promise controversy or salacious stories about their personal lives. Hip Hop Uncovered definitely wants to give its lesser-known subjects a PR bump as well, but it also has higher ambitions. Intertwined with the biographies of the five entrepreneurs are a history of hip hop music itself, an overview of Black American history of the past 50 years, and some local histories of New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles. The series dives into the relationship between American government policy and poverty in Black communities, and the effect that those two forces have on street gangs and drug running. In this way, Hip Hop Uncovered uses this globally popular music as a springboard to dig into more complex issues, much in the way that hip hop itself does.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about hip hop music. Are you familiar with any of the artists or entrepreneurs featured in Hip Hop Uncovered? How are the subjects of the documentary related to the music you listen to?

  • Why is it important to understand the history and culture behind hip hop music? How does the genre's history intersect with American history?

  • How do the subjects of Hip Hop Uncovered feel about gang culture? Drug culture? How did these things impact their development as entrepreneurs?

TV details

  • Premiere date: February 12, 2021
  • Network: FX
  • Genre: Educational
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Last updated: November 16, 2021

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