Katrin Bowen’s documentary on the late ‘80s/early ‘90s rap scene in the
East Bay offers no real surprises. All the normal issues such as crime, racism and politics are covered by rappers, DJs and others connected to the music in one way or another. The value of the documentary actually comes from contrasting it with today’s rap stars.
In rap’s early days, as “Spitting Reality” clearly shows, rappers such as X-Clan, Toastie and Premo were more concerned with getting a message across and somehow making their community a better place to live by raising awareness about the levels of violence that surrounded them on any given day. Today’s rappers seem more interested in making money and elevating their own lifestyle. Sure, there are still those out there concerned with racism and the like, but they don’t get radio play.
This documentary, one of the earliest rap ones I know of, covers a scene that may not have been as vibrant as what was going on in New York City at the time, but was just as vital. If rap’s history holds any interest for you, this is something you should check out.