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Backstage Backstage

A divided documentary which resonates more as a rap concert of Jay Z's 1999 "Hard Knock Life" tour is the lively, but slighted Backstage.

In an admirable first outing, Chris Fiore has plenty of what drives those who've been influenced by gangsters and drugs to give a deeper look into today's biggest hip hoppers like DMX, Method Man, Beanie Siegel, Memphis Bleek, and Ja Rule.

Notions of violence are manifested in short, slick animated form, though it appears the interview format can't say as much about hip/hop as its' performances on stage.

Not as insightful as the more historic "Rhyme and Reason" there's some verity to how rappers have responded to having to act responsibly.  Ex-dealer Ja Rule and Jay Z give some feeling to the plight of young blacks from the inner cities.  From the sounds on the tour which goes from LA to Montreal to the Big Apple there isn't much reason behind the emphatic, often expletive lyrical slams in front of packed arenas.  From the 80's staple of, say, Ice-T, the politics and mores aren't as meaningful in the Roc-a-Fella record label and the Def Jam music group.  The personalities and logistics of the tour centers on Jay-Z and the baldly dapper Damon Dash.

In order to live up to its title, Backstage is privy to music video fade outs of tunes as the inter cutting during the tour is more an eavesdropping than a thoughtful examination of a wave of music that continues to have influence on society.

Yet, Backstage doesn't make the viewer richer for the industry with which it attempts to clear the smoke from, it never really establishes a penetrating link from the rough neighborhoods where the artists have ignited their huge popularity.

 
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