Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

to have its television premiere on PBS, Tuesday, Febuary 20 at 10 PM

Filmmaker Byron Hurt takes an in-depth look at manhood, sexism and homophobia in rap music and hip-hop culture

Visit the program companion website >> 

(San Francisco, CA)—HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhyme sis a fascinating, personal and heartfelt documentary that goes beyond the bling to explore gender roles in hip-hop and rap music through the lens of filmmaker Byron Hurt, a former college quarterback turned activist. Conceived as a “loving critique” from a self-proclaimed “hip-hop head,” Hurt focuses on issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip-hop culture by talking with rappers, moguls and fans. The film, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, will air nationally on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 10PM (check local listings.) 

HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes features revealing interviews with rappers including Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes and hip-hop moguls Russell Simmons, Chris Lighty and Corey Smyth, along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy- Sheftall, Carmen Ashurst, Kevin Powell and Sarah Jones and interviews with young women at Spelman College, a historically black college and one of the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions. HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymesalso reveals the complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country. 

“In the past 20 years, hip-hop has become a critically acclaimed, billion dollar industry,” says filmmaker Byron Hurt. “How do black men feel about the representations of manhood in hip-hop? How do black women and men feel about the pervasive images of scantily clad and sexually objectified women in rap music and videos? What do today’s rap lyrics tell us about the collective consciousness of black men and women from the hip-hop generation? What does homoeroticism in hip-hop media look like? These are the types of questions I set out to explore in this film and to provide thoughtful dialogue from intelligent, divergent voices of rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation.” 

HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, produced and directed by Byron Hurt, is a co-production of God Bless the Child Productions, Inc. and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Executive Producer is Stanley Nelson. Executive Producer for ITVS is Sally Jo Fifer. The film is co-produced and edited by Sabrina Schmidt Gordon. 

Partial List of On-Screen Participants, in Order of Appearance 
Dougie Fresh, Rapper, known as “The Entertainer”
KRS-ONE, Rapper and Activist
Chris Lighty, CEO of Violator Records/Management
M-1, Rapper
Conrad Tillard, Hip-Hop Minister/Activist, Executive Director of Movement for CHHANGE (Consciou Hip-Hop Activism Necessary for Global Empowerment), NYC
Busta Rhymes, Rapper
Toni Blackman, Rapper
D12, Rap Group
Fat Joe, Rapper
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Cultural Critic and Author of “Is Bill Cosby Right?”
Dr. James Peterson, Hip-Hop Scholar, Penn State University
Kevin Powell, Author, Hip-Hop Historian/Activist
Dr. William Jelani Cobb, Scholar and Author
Mos Def, Rapper
Talib Kweli, Rapper Chuck Creekmur, Hip-Hop Writer and Co-Founder of allhiphop.com
Jackson Katz, Anti-Sexism Activist and Author
Chuck D, Rapper/Activist
Jadakiss, Rapper
Sarah Jones, Tony Award-winning Performance Artist/Playwright
Mikael Moore, Morehouse Graduate and Aide to Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Sut Jhally, Scholar, University of Massachusetts
Dr. Beverly Guy Sheftall, Scholar, Spelman College, Atlanta
Russell Simmons, Hip-Hop Executive
50 Cent, Rapper
Tim'm West, Rapper
Emil Wilbekin, Former Editor-in-Chief of Vibe Magazine
Mark Anthony Neal, Author and Scholar, Duke University
Carmen Ashurst, Scholar and former Def Jam Executive
Stephen Hill, Senior VP of Music Programming, BET 

HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymesis also being used in a large-scale national outreach program of screenings and discussions, featuring a wide variety of national partners: A Call to Men; National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women; Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Center for American Progress/Campus Progress; Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture—University of Chicago; Center for Family Policy and Practice—University of Wisconsin; Center for the Study of Sport and Society; Women of Color Resource Center; Youth Movement Records; Family Violence Prevention Fund; Just Think Foundation; Ms. Foundation; National Hip-Hop Political Convention; National Women’s Alliance; and Sports Leadership Institute—Adelphi University. 

For more information on the national outreach campaign, visit itvs.org/outreach/hiphop. The HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes interactive companion website (pbs.org/hiphop) features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more. 

Byron Hurt (Producer/Director) is the New York-based producer of the award-winning documentary and underground classic, I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America and Moving Memories: The Black Senior Video Yearbook. Hurt, 36, is a former Northeastern University football star and long-time gender violence prevention educator. For more than five years, he was the associate director and founding member of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the leading college-based rape and domestic violence prevention initiative for professional athletics. He is also the former associate director of the first gender violence prevention program in the United States Marine Corps. Hurt was the recipient of the prestigious Echoing Green public service fellowship in 1999, an award given to ambitious young activists devoted to creating social change in their communities. Over the past decade, Hurt has lectured at more than 100 college campuses and trained thousands of young men and women on issues related to gender, race, sex, violence, music and visual media. 

Press Contact:
Mary Lugo: 770/623-8190, lugo@negia.net
Cara White: 843/881-1480, carapub@aol.com
Voleine Amilcar, ITVS: 415/356-8383 x 244, voleine_amilcar@ivs.org
Randall Cole, ITVS: 415/356-8383 x 254, randall_cole@itvs.org

Posted on January 4, 2007