Director Peter Spirer's look at the paradoxical world of hip-hop sidesteps the sensationalism and moral posturing of the music's detractors, but while the result succeeds as a cultural snapshot, it fails as a polemic. And while the film does little to dispel the
argument against gangsta rap -- that it glorifies extreme violence and misogyny -- it does manage to suggest that most of what underlies the aggressive lyrics is pure, playful bombast. The interviewees, a mix of DJs, rappers and producers, are generally unabashed advocates, defending rap on one
of two well-worn fronts: constitutional (oppressed African-Americans express themselves) and economic (music as a...