Rhyme & Punishment
- Documentary Review & Movie Trailer
Review Date: March 17, 2012
DVD Release Date: March 15,
Review by Compay for
In Rhyme and Punishment,
Hip Hop filmmaker Peter Spirer captures the real prison
stories of some of the most influential names in the rap
world. The documentary offers an eye-opening look at
rappers and the American prison system.
While the film itself was both shot and edited well, its
success is due to the exclusive interviews and previously
unseen footage. Despite the fact that many Hip Hop heads
are already familiar with the incarceration of the artists
featured in this film, their stories are candid and
surprising. You're provided with an in-depth look at
life behind bars for established rappers.
Any long-time rap fan
should be familiar with the "Hip Hop Police", as the
rapper-specific task forces are commonly referred to.
But what Rhyme and Punishment excels at is shining a spotlight
at exactly how various law enforcement agencies target
rappers. If the playing field of justice was already
uneven for minorities in America, for rappers the system is
even more discriminatory.
One of the most surprising
anecdotes comes from Three 6 Mafia associate Project Pat.
The Sippin' on Some Sizzurp hook slinger shares the story of
how his lyrics of illegal drug activity played a part in his
sentencing after being arrested for a parole violation.
The significance of his
story is that a disparity exists between how America's
judicial system treats musical entertainers, and that of
actors. Action stars that have gunned down hundreds of
enemies on the big screen aren't judged on the basis of the
characters they portray. Yet rappers that weave
similarly fabricated stories of illegal activity often find
themselves being judged on the basis of their own lyrics when
in the courtroom.
That's not to say that the
rappers featured in Rhyme and Punishment try to pawn the blame
off entirely to the legal system. Many of the artists
interviewed don't make excuses for the actual crimes
committed, nor paint themselves with the "it wasn't me" brush.
But what their stories do reveal is that they were often
singled out for being rap artists, or that their basic legal
rights had been violated to some degree.
refreshing about Rhyme and Punishment is that most of the
artists featured make it clear that life behind bars isn't
worth glorifying. Some of the rappers interviewed
discuss how little they knew what to expect from their first
time being locked up, and the culture shock that ensued.
The DVD features exclusive
interviews with Project Pat, J-Swift, Beanie Siegel, Immortal
Technique, Prodigy, Cassidy, and several others. Jeffrey
Ogbar, the Hip Hop head sporting a Phd, also provides an
interesting take on rappers in the prison system. From
Rass Kass explaining why he went fugitive, to Big Lurch
weighing in on those cannibalism rumors, there's a good bit of
new material fans are treated to.
Rhyme & Punishment isn't as
gritty as your average HBO documentary on criminal activities,
but it's still insightful and entertaining. If you're a fan of
crime and prison documentaries, you would definitely enjoy it.
You can watch the documentary on Netflix Instant, or copy the
DVD online for the extras.