Public Enemy, “Prophets of Rage”

Byron Hurt, Beyond Beats and Rhymes:

Please respond to these questions. You can respond to each question individually or write a single response that pulls them together.

What is the purpose of the time spent establishing Byron Hurt’s identity at the beginning of Beyond Beats and Rhymes?
In both films rappers are presented as figures in confrontation with various issues in their worlds, both show rappers willing to reference violence, guns and civil disobedience, what are the main differences between the ways in which these are expressed by Public Enemy in the late ‘80s and early ’90s and the rap of the following decade?
Both Public Enemy and Notorious B.I.G. use images of prison bars in their videos, do you so the images used to the same end or is there something different about them?
Why does Chuck D refer to “the pimping of black death” and to BET as “the cancer of black manhood in the world”? Do you agree?
How do you feel about the way women are represented in hip hop? Do Hurt’s ideas hit home or does he go too far? Is the male-fantasy world as it appears in music videos harmful? If you’re a female, how do you relate to the genearl application of the title “bitch”? If you’re a male how do you think you’d behave given the opportunity to attend Spring Bling with friends?
In both films we see music artists, who could also be called “entertainers,” being held accountable for fictional lyrics. Is this fair or reasonable? Why or why not? Do we expect the same of white rock musicians?
Asked by Hurt why they only spit violent rhymes, several of the aspiring rappers give answers along the lines of “That [righteous stuff] is nice but nobody wanna hear it.” Taleb Kweli argues that people would listen if there was a media outlet willing to play rap music with meaning.
What do you think about this? Do people have a capacity to enjoy music with meaning, even if they only want to listen casually?
How did you feel when you listened to Chuck D of Public Enemy talk about the inspiration for his band’s work in “Prophets of Rage?”
Is it fair to expect entertainers to somehow make a social statement? Do we expect this equally of various ethnicities? Should we?

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