Byron Hurt was very interested in hip hop and the culture surrounding it, which makes his documentary stronger. Any critics of hip hop and the culture around it usually aren’t fans of it. Byron Hurt’s documentary, Beyond Beats and Rhymes shows the bigger picture view of hip hop and the roles it assigns. In the documentary, one of the major themes is the aspect of violence in manhood. Many of the videos seen depict all the rappers as almost invincible and extremely aggressive. For example in the video, many of the freestyles had violent lyrics and were aggressive. Each battle rapper was attacking their opponent instead of actually trying to show their lyrical ability. Battle rapping reflects the streets in which your opponent isn’t only the competition, but also your enemy. It seems that more of the focus shifted from the complicated lyrical word play to lyrics that are less complicated with more violent content. The video didn’t emphasize the reason directly behind the shift in more violent lyrics in hip-hop. It did brush on the fact that there were more different types of music for hip-hop listeners to choose in the past then there are now. For example in the late 80s and early 90s, their was a variety in hip hop music from NWA to De La Soul. Now for the most part, most of the cds on the shelf cater the same image of violent indestructible masculinity. I believe more of the reason for the shift, isn’t just in the change of ownership of the record labels, but also the environment. Many neighborhoods become increasingly impoverished over the course of the 90s, especially with crack hitting many cities.
The problem is that hip-hop overemphasizes everything in street life. In reality, not every body who’s in the struggle is slinging crack, killing, robbing or pimping. These things do occur