Beyond Beats and Rhymes

“Man this hoe you can have her, 
when I’m done I ain’t gon keep her 
Man, bitches come and go, every nigga pimpin know”
— 50 Cent


Ah, the sweet sound of misogyny — every time I turn on the radio. And turning on the TV is even worse. Video after video on channels like BET and MTV accosts us with images of rappers throwing money at half naked women. And mainstream hip hop is more popular than ever. But if sex and violence sell — particularly when combined — there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Or, that’s what the record companies want us to believe. Fortunately, they don’t have everyone convinced.

Young filmmaker Byron Hurt is not just unconvinced, he wants to challenge the system. In his new documentary, Beyond Beats and Rhymes: Masculinity in Hip Hop Culture, Byron presents images, samples and interviews that he hopes will expose and take apart the structures of violence, hyper-aggression, and misogyny present in much of today’s hip hop.

Produced by Stanley Nelson, known for such documentaries as Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind, the 60-minute film will run on PBS later this year. Not content with merely this audience, however, Byron is taking matters into his own hands by showing the film on college campuses across the nation. In speaking to him, it’s easy to see why.

“So much of the ills in our society come from the way we men define manhood,” says Byron, adding, “I want this film to really get men to question and to challenge the way we’re socialized and conditioned.”

He became familiarized with the realities of black masculinity when making the film I Am a Man: Black Masculinity in America. An anti-sexism activist, Byron has also worked for a program called Mentors in Violence Prevention for the Marine Corps where he held training, workshops, and lectures for U.S. Marines, fraternity brothers, coaches, activists, and teachers. Byron stresses the need to educate boys and men in the African-American community, in particular, about what it means to be male in our society. Encouraging such discussion, he believes, has the possibility to spark important social change….(read the rest of the article)






To help spread the word, check out or visit The Independent Television Service and The National Black Programming Consortium to send feedback about the project or to learn about similar endeavors in television and film.



Suemeda Sood, 20, is a student at the University of Virginia.


source: WireTap