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Australia, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)

Director: Stephen Elliott, Grant Elliott

Is Rap the Devil's music, mindless and often unintelligible, or a dangerous battle cry for increasingly tribalised and disaffected Black American youth? In the case of the early 80s release of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's The Message, it is none of these; it's a warning. It warns of revolution: "Don't/push/me/coz/I'm/close/to/the/edge".

In recent years performers like Public Enemy and Ice T have had their lyrics banned from sale or are censored, which in their view represents a fear of their challenge to the status quo. Melbourne filmmaking brothers Stephen and Grant Elliott travelled to the US with the aim of exploring rap's social and political context. Boldly, their video documentary confronts this cultural movement's key figures, posing some sticky questions concerning sexism in lyrics and the extent of moral responsibility that ought to be taken by performers over inflammatory, controversial subject matter.

Rappers interviewed by the Elliots include Ice T, Ice Cube, Queen Latifah and KRS One who prove themselves to be active participants in an onrush of social change. The range of the artists' responses is illuminating and varied, covering issues such as racism in America, economic and social inequality, and race and gender relations.

Rap, Race And Equality goes way beyond simply discussing musical form, rather, as the title suggests, it's an up-to-the-minute mosaic exposing the hopes, frustrations, negativity and needs of young black America.

See also...


Australia, 1994
On December 1,1942, a US airforce bomber crashed in the south-east corner of the Gulf of Carpenteria after a bombing raid over New Guinea. Four of the crew survived and, thinking they were near Cairn… More »


USA, 1993
There's no stopping contemporary renaissance man David Byrne. The painter turned art-rocker who became a pop star has more recently turned his interests to photography, musical anthropology and filmm… More »


UK, 1993
Challenging British director Derek Jarman's final major work has been compared in visual execution to Warhol's Sleep and Empire State. Where it outstrips them both is in the meticulously crafted and … More »


Italy, 1993
The boatman is Gopal. He rows the waters of the Ganges, the Sacred River of India, guiding his vessel through Benares, the city of Shiva, the city of the Dead. Creating the illusion of a moving point… More »


UK, 1993
Gangsta chic, violence and nihilism, the hard edge of Rap and Ragga increasingly dominates the image of black popular culture. Director Isaac Julian (Looking For Langston, Young Soul Rebels) and the … More »

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