Full Frame: The Hip-Hop Fellow Review – NP Approved

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The Hip-Hop Fellow (2014)

Cast: , ,
Director: Kenneth Price
Country: USA
Genre: Documentary | Biography | Music
Official Trailer: Here


Editor’s Note: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2014 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. For more information please visit fullframefest.org or follow Full Frame on Twitter.

Deep inside of Harvard University, within a building called the W.E.B Du Bois institute, there is an experiment underway to create a whole new academic discipline. Inside the building is the HipHop Archive and Research Institute, a project that is trying to “encourage the pursuit of knowledge, art, culture and responsible leadership through HipHop.”

In practice this means using literary, historical, musical and cultural theoretical models in order to celebrate HipHop history and culture in a really engaging and exciting way. Yet along with lecture halls and seminar rooms, the building is full of turntables, records and other HipHop artifacts that students can use to investigate musical lineage and cultural heritage.

This film is for anyone that dismisses HipHop – and by prejudicial association, African-American history – as trivial and unworthy of analysis.

The new documentary from director Kenneth Price works as a kind of sequel to 2011’s The Wonder Year, which followed DJ/Producer 9th Wonder (Patrick Douthit) for a year as he moved between making beats in the studio, performing at festivals and teaching classes as a professor at Duke University.

THEHIPHOPFELLOW_2-1The HipHop Fellow picks up the story with Douthit a fellow at Harvard constructing a thesis about HipHop called ‘Here Comes The Breaks’. His research tries to explore the lineage of blues, jazz and Motown (amongst other genres) into HipHop samples and how HipHop music manages to bridge the gap between genrations.

The course that he constructs for the students involve taking 10 seminal HipHop albums and deconstructing them into a network of samples and reference points – as well as locating them in their proper historical context with the politics of the time. At one point he explains this task by drawing an analogy between how art historians at some point decided that “Picasso was the dude…Dali was the dude…Van Gogh was the dude”, and how this was they are trying to do to HipHop.

This film is for anyone that dismisses HipHop – and by prejudicial association, African-American history – as trivial and unworthy of analysis. Douthit and his colleagues explain the importance of the music in deciphering the behavior of young people and their relationship with the world around them. The film is educational, exciting and fresh and should itself be studied over time as a document of the tipping point when HipHop became a respectable Harvard discipline.

[notification type=”star”]90/100 ~ AMAZING. The film is educational, exciting and fresh and should itself be studied over time as a document of the tipping point when HipHop became a respectable Harvard discipline.[/notification]

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I'm a film and culture graduate, movie blogger and media teacher in the south of the UK. I love everything to do with politics, dystopias and the apocalypse - but I'm a pretty cheery guy...