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The Coup and Boots Riley - Afropunk Festival at Brooklyns own Commodore Barry Park - day two - BNY, NY, United States - Monday 26th August 2013

The Coup and Boots Riley
The Coup and Boots Riley
The Coup and Boots Riley
The Coup and Boots Riley
The Coup and Boots Riley
The Coup and Boots Riley

Freestyle: The Art Of Rhyme Review


OK
Kevin Fitzgerald's documentary about freestyling -- the process of coming up with raps off the top of your head -- first hit the festival circuit in 2000; arriving on DVD in 2005, it already feels archival, like a bit of old news. Mos Def, the biggest name in the film, is captured while he was still a member of the hip-hop duo Black Star, well before he moved on to a successful solo and film career; many of the other underground rappers featured - including Divine Styler, Pharoahe Monch, Aceyalone, Bahamadia -- are either no-names or had their biggest moments the better part of a decade ago.

That says something about how hip-hop evolves as a genre - it's not Fitzgerald's fault that the genre he loves best moves so fast, and getting an indie documentary finished on a shoestring can be a lengthy process. But you wouldn't notice how dated the film feels if it didn't have more serious organizational problems. Freestyle mainly wants to be a documentary about the history and mechanics of freestyling, but its loose-limbed, impressionistic structure too often makes the film drift away from the point. Freestyle bounces from interviews with members of early-'70s Beat-poet-styled hip-hop pioneers the Last Poets to brief (and unconvincing) attempts to tether freestyling to Baptist church preachers and John Coltrane's improvisations. Brief interludes about the history of early hip-hop in the Bronx, female rappers, and the mainstream rap industry take on worthy subjects, but they draw energy away from the subject at hand.

Continue reading: Freestyle: The Art Of Rhyme Review

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