Rapture

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
Rapture TV Poster Image
Documentary on hip-hop artists stays mostly surface-level.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Rapture thrives on its subjects' success stories, and most of the rappers it showcases worked through tremendous adversity in order to achieve success.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Outside of the fortitude and work ethic needed to achieve their success, Rapture's subjects don't necessarily present positive role models. The exception is T.I., whose episode is not centered on what he has achieved to this point in his career, but how he can become a better person and artist going forward.

Violence

Footage of police brutality is shown, including the killing of multiple people. There are depictions of historical violence, and some stories here and there that talk about violent acts.

Sex

There are no depictions of sex, but there's occasionally sex talk in song lyrics.

Language

Swearing is rampant. "S--t," "f--k," "f--king," "ass," "bitch," "nigga," the N-word.

Consumerism

The show is designed for publicity. It promotes its subjects albums, tours, and brands.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's a lot of drinking and smoking, though no drinking to excess. There's a lot of talk about drug dealing, and some artists can be explicitly seen using marijuana.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rapture is a documentary series focusing on various hip-hop artists. The show follows rappers around as they tour, record, produce, visit family, hang out with friends, and generally go about their daily business. With one clear exception, each episode is mostly straightforward PR for the artists; the exception is episode 3, which follows T.I. as he attempts to become more socially conscious in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement by educating himself in the history of racism. 

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What's the story?

Each episode of RAPTURE focuses on a single rapper, telling the story of their career by weaving together concert footage, interviews, and day-in-the-life footage. There's an effort to include a wide range of subjects, from hip-hop luminaries like Nas, T.I., and Just Blaze, to newer stars like Logic and G Easy, to up-and-comers like Rapsody and A Boogie with a Hoodie. Episodes typically provide a window into each artist's background and family life, their place in the broader hip-hop community, and how they approach their work in the studio or on tour.

Is it any good?

By its very nature, this documentary series is a mixed bag. Each episode starts over from scratch, and the subjects vary wildly in terms of their likeability, the quality of their music, and which aspects of their lives they're willing to reveal to the cameras. Someone who dislikes the rapper Logic, for example, probably isn't going to walk away from Rapture as a fan. And on the flip side, a Logic fan probably isn't going to walk away with any revelatory information about him. Most of the time, the show feels tethered to the amount of access they've been given, which can be anything from backstage on tour to just running errands. Sometimes you're just going apartment hunting with Nas and his real estate agent, which is...not very exciting. Because of this, most of the episodes just feel like boilerplate PR for the artists. They're all telling the stories of their careers, but each one is a version of the same, simple story: "I wanted to do something, and then I did it."

There's one very big exception to that. Episode 3 finds T.I. in a genuinely transitional moment, as he has decided to shift his music toward social consciousness in the wake of the murders of Philandro Castile, Eric Garner, and others, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. T.I. sets out to educate himself and his family about America's history of racism, and how to incorporate activism into his art, and he has long conversations with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, anti-racism activist Jane Elliott, Civil Rights Movement leader Andrew Young, and Harry Belafonte, who is a model of the type of artist-activist that T.I. aspires to be. The episode transcends the rest of Rapture, not only because of its powerful subject, but because it's the only one that feels like it's genuinely asking questions rather than simply making publicity statements.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it takes to be a successful artist. All of the stories told in Rapture are success stories. What have these artists done to get to where they are in their careers? How are their paths similar? How are they different?

  • Families can talk about what it means to choose a career in music. What did it mean for each of these rappers to choose a life in music? What sacrifices did they have to make? Did they have support from their families? 

  • Episode 3, "T.I.: Taking a Stand," dives deep into issues of racism, social justice, and activism. This is a great opportunity for families to discuss these complex issues, especially since the episode is about T.I. educating himself on them.

TV details

For kids who love music

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