`Hip Hop Project' has no rhythm

Documentary about kids in educational program is repetitive, cliched

Review C+

May 11, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

The breakdancing film Inside the Circle, a favorite at the recent Maryland Film Festival, currently lacks distribution. But as a movie it dances rings around The Hip Hop Project, which also premiered at the festival but opens nationally today.

The Hip Hop Project tells the story of an educational program that began as part of the New York-based Art Start and culminated in the iTunes release of the soundtrack this week. The director of The Hip Hop Project, Matt Ruskin, faced a multitiered challenge. The program's founder, Chris "Kazi" Rolle, aims to rescue rapping from gangsta fantasies filled with violence, misogyny and materialism - and at the end passes the baton to a student, Diana "Princess" Lemon. Kazi wants to find talented students and take them outside the circle, creating a new space for self-expression as well as fresh material for the form. Kazi is part self-help guru and part entrepreneur, and there's inspiration to be found in his character-building, art-gestating sessions.

The Hip Hop Project (ThinkFilm) Starring Chris "Kazi" Rolle, Diana "Princess" Lemon, Christopher "Cannon" Mapp. Directed by Matt Ruskin. Not rated. Time 88 minutes.

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