Last Thursday, while most students were at Stein Clubs and Senior Bar, the true hip-hop fans filled Science Center D to see and discuss Byron P. Hurt’s documentary “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” which analyzes manhood, sexism, homophobia and violence in hip-hop.
Before the screening, Hurt told his audience “whether you love hip-hop or hate hip-hop, I think this film will get everyone talking.”
Which was apparently true, as Hurt later had to force one student to stop talking in the Q&A. However, such an enthusiastic response was warranted, and those at the screening weren’t disappointed.
And there certainly were a lot of them. Director of Harvard College Women’s Center Susan B. Marine wrote in an e-mail “I can’t remember the last time such a large, diverse, and engaged group of students came to an event on a Thursday night.”
Students watched Hurt on-screen in his evolution into an activist whose post-college soul searching led him to challenge hip-hop artists like Mos Def, Fat Joe, and Busta Rhymes to contemplate images of manhood in their music.
The hour-long documentary reveals that these artists’ thuggish and culturally damaging personas are largely acts. Skeptical? Even tough-guy Fat Joe wonders why rappers feel the need to act “hard.”
Near the end of the evening, Hurt challenged students to act on the issues discussed instead of heading back home and rapping along with Busta without a conscious contemplation of what the music actually means.
So the next time you’re at a rager and your favorite song is on the playlist, hold up on the grinding for a minute and woo your date with a meaningful discussion of the “images of manhood” in the lyrics. Fat Joe would be proud.