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Beat Street

By Phil Udell

A slightly dated but nonetheless fascinating snapshot of musical history, Beat Street is an urban musical detailing the roots of hip-hop. Set in early-1980s New York, the film focuses on the lives of a small group of young people setting their experiences against the larger backdrop of the city's burgeoning music scene. The story of up-and-coming DJ Kenny (Guy Davis) and his relationship with jazz musician Tracy (Rae Dawn Chong) may only be a device, but it's surprisingly effective, as is the ultimately tragic tale of graffiti artist Ramon (Jon Chardiet). The movie's real raison d'Ítre, however, is to showcase the sounds of the street, so it's full of some of hip-hop's most influential names--Melle Mel, Doug E Fresh, Kool Moe Dee, the Rocksteady Crew, Jazzy Jeff, and Arthur Baker. And while the combination of electro and rapping may sound a little crude to modern ears, there can be no doubt that Beat Street is the sight and sound of history being made.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Stan Lathan

Stars: Rae Dawn Chong, Guy Davis, Jon Chardiet, Leon W. Grant, Saundra Santiago, Robert Taylor

Released: June 8, 1989

Availability: DVD VHS


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