Rhyme & Reason | Chicago Reader

Rhyme & Reason

This documentary about rap and rap artists is gracefully self-conscious about the limitations of having insiders define something—an acknowledgment that allows it to speak authoritatively about the history and personalities it presents. Director and coproducer Peter Spirer investigates the complex relationship between rap, economics, and crime with breadth and incisiveness, but he allows mainly women who've been successful in the industry to comment on the connection between rap and negative attitudes about women—which makes the optimism of these professionals about the issue seem like rationalization. A sequence about the Jack the Rapper convention, where aspiring artists go to network, blends the candidness of a home movie with the invasiveness of a successful expose—demystifying the players' roles in history even as it fixes them in the canon. The comments about crime made by artists who've died violently since they were interviewed aren't so much ironic as eloquent expressions of both idealism and cynicism.

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