'Rhyme and Reason' Takes the Wraps off of Rap Music

Article excerpt

Byline: P.S. Colbert Daily Herald Correspondent

"Rhyme and Reason" * * * *

Edited by Andy Robertson and David Wilson. Produced by Charles X. Block, Peter Spirer and Daniel Sollinger. Directed by Peter Spirer. A Miramax Films Release. A Miramax Films Release. Rated R.

Featuring KRS-ONE, Kurtis Blow, Ice-T, Dr. Dre, the Fugees, Chuck D, Salt-N-Pepa, Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill, Tupac and many others.

So you hate rap music.

Which kind do you hate exactly? The violent, profane, misogynistic gangsta type? The self-serving, hedonistic stuff of ranking M.C.'s? The funky sitcom-pop of Young MC, D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince?

Whether you consider it urban poetry or ebonic plague, "Rhyme and Reason," the first feature-length documentary of hip-hop history, will oops upside your head and guide you through a fascinating semichronological narrative of the billion-dollar business that remains the music world's best kept secret.

Video director-cinematographer Peter Spirer (who merited an Oscar nomination for his 1994 short-subject documentary "Blood Ties,") packs so much entertainment and information into his feature-length debut that the big screen seems almost in danger of bursting at the seams from beginning to end without a slack second in between.

What's more, editors Andy Robinson and David Wilson slice and dice a melange of sights and sound that defy you to look away.

Wisely, the filmmakers stay behind the scenes, letting the events unfurl from a combination of now and stock footage while the story is told exclusively by hip-hop's primary purveyors and fans.

First stop, the Bronx, birthplace of break-dancing, graffiti art, (now sharing exhibition space with Picasso, Van Gogh and the like), and pioneering D.J.'s who boldly stepped up to the microphone and spewed impromptu, scattershot rhymes.

Here hungry artists too poverty- stricken to afford conventional instruments worked out their creative frustrations by manipulating turntables, ("scratching") and combining prerecorded sources to create new melodies ("sampling"). …