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By Doug Brunell | February 27, 2004

This documentary about Latino hip-hop shows some interesting parallels to the Latino punk rock scene. Both forms of music are politically charged, underrated and vastly overlooked. Through interviews with people and acts like Mellow Man Ace, ODM, Delinquent Habits, Molotov, Capone, and more, the filmmakers explore the beginnings of this movement, its struggles and where it is today. Of special note is the section on how major labels have dealt with these artists, and it should be watched by anyone who wants to pursue music.
One thing many bands and artists don’t know is that the major labels exploit their acts for all they’re worth. This means huge advances and little promotion or reward. The Latino artists featured in “Pass the Mic” found this out the hard way as they watched bidding wars turn into legal fiascos where the only people who got paid were anyone who wasn’t the artists. Tragic? Yes. Commonplace? Most definitely.
Overall, the film is very positive with hip-hop revolutionaries that mirror the culture that spawned them. They face adversity and plow on despite the odds being against them. They continue to make their beats and try to educate the world about a culture that has been used by the advertising world to sell fast food but hasn’t been given the respect it truly deserves. By the end of the film you realize this is history of a music scene that deserves some attention, yet seems to thrive in the shadows. And if you know your history, you know the shadows is where all the important stuff happens.

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