One of the things about this documentary, that separates it from any that I have seen, is that it acknowledges that Hip Hop is just another extention of the artistic expression of African people in the United States. This is best stated by Eluard Burt II in the first minutes of the documentary by saying "Rap is just a stem, a part of the branch, of what we are all about..." The Oral Tradition and the use of the word is a part of the historical legacy of African people. With the commericialization of the artform, far too many are learning the culture from corporations rather than from the culprits.
Hip Hop came from the streets. The record companies created rap. What this documentary does is goes back to the streets and finds those unknown artist who aren't doing this for money, but for the love. They capture some of the energy that has brought many people through the oppressive conditions of the inner cities of America. That is the purest expression that you can get.
Though the documentary focuses on freestyling, it also explains briefly how it all started with DJ Kool Herc. Any Hip Hop documentary that doesn't address Herc, is incomplete. Being a native New Yorker, I lived the birth of the artform and watched how the originators of the this multi billion dollar industry don't even get paid... attention.
There is no way you can do a documentary about freestyling without including Supernatural and Craig G. They were without question, two of the best freestylers of all time and could hold their own now (Graig G wrote the battle rhymes for Eminiem's opponents in 8 Mile). Their Battle is nothing short of monumental. That is the Ali vs Frazier of hip hop.
What I appreciate is that he goes from east coast to west coast and addresses how both coast contributed to each others growth. Something rarely mentioned. Unfortunately this has been tainted by the media's creation of the east west coast beef.
What I didn't expect was that it it bypasses the violence that is too often associated with Hip Hop. Because in all honesty, the glorification of violence is tied to "rap" and record sales. Not the culture of Hip Hop. What you hear in most of the freestyles is social commentary, intellectual wordplay, storytelling, braggadocia, etc... the basis of what hip hop use to be.
All in all, this is a great illustration of what hip hop was and still is, but is often unseen and unheard. If your addicted to radio, MTV, BET, ETC... just understand, this isn't about the polished studio artist. If your not, this may be just what you have been waiting for. Something Raw. 4.5 Stars