Rhyme and Reason

Director: Peter Spirer
Directors of Photography:Peter Spirer, Daniel Sollinger, George Mitas, Sean Adair, Brennan McClean, Alex Rappaport, Adam Vardy and Antonio Ponti
Editors:Andy Robertson and David Wilson
Music:Benedikt Brydern
Producers:Charles X Block, Peter Spirer and Daniel Sollinger
Miramax; R; 90 minutes
With:A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Fugees, Notorious B.I.G., Heavy D, Salt-N-Pepa, Nas, Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre

This documentary examines the history and culture of hip-hop, the $3-billion industry that has been lambasted by politicians, priests and family-values advocates, and asks the musicians to assess the influence of their art. Rhyme and Reason follows rap from its infancy in the mid-1970s South Bronx to break dancing and scratching to West Coast gangsta rap of the 1980s, as well as chronicles the bitter turf war between West Coast and East Coast rappers. The film asks the right questions: Are the lyrics that refer to women as bitches and hos as misogynist as they sound? Should the musicians abandon their roots when they strike it rich? But contradictory responses and fast, jumpy pacing leave the issues inadequately addressed.