Sunday, December 24, 2006
From The New York Times…
Fan Asks Hard Questions About Rap Music
By ERIK ECKHOLM
CHICAGO — Byron Hurt takes pains to say that he is a fan of hip-hop, but over time, says Mr. Hurt, a 36-year-old filmmaker, dreadlocks hanging below his shoulders, “I began to become very conflicted about the music I love.”
A new documentary by Mr. Hurt, “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” questions the violence, degradation of women and homophobia in much of rap music.
Scheduled to go on the air in February as part of the PBS series Independent Lens, the documentary is being shown now at high schools, colleges and Boy’s Clubs, and in other forums, as part of an unusual public campaign sponsored by the Independent Television Service, which is based in San Francisco and helped finance the film.
The intended audiences include young fans, hip-hop artists and music industry executives — black and white — who profit from music and videos that glorify swagger and luxury, portray women as sex objects, and imply, critics say, that education and hard work are for suckers and sissies.
What concerns Mr. Hurt and many black scholars is the domination of the hip-hop market by more violent and sexually demeaning songs and videos — an ascendancy, the critics say, that has coincided with the growth of the white audience for rap and the growing role of large corporations in marketing the music.
Ronald F. Ferguson, a black economist and education expert at Harvard, said that the global success of hip-hop had had positive influences on the self-esteem of black youths but that children who became obsessed with it “may unconsciously adopt the themes in this music as their lens for viewing the world.”
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