The Show

on August 25, 1995 by Sean O'Neill
   Ever since the late '80s ascendance of the gangsta school of rap music, enquiring minds have wondered just how true to life the genre's lyrics really are. Are gangsta rappers, as the late Eazy-E of NWA once said, really "street reporters," or are they merely money-hungry entertainers exploiting the American public's insatiable taste for sex and violence, as Ice-T has always maintained? If Brian Robbins "rapumentary" is any indication, the answer is both, but closer to the former than the latter. Toward "The Show's" front, when Treach of Naughty by Nature says that "if not for rap, I'd probably be in your house right now...robbin' your safe and slappin' your kids around," it's easy to read his words as hyperbole; but, as the film ends with the sound of a prison door slamming shut on convicted murderer and platinum-selling artist Slick Rick, one truth comes home: Not always is a pose a pose. Aside from capturing a great number of unguarded moments ("I'm only going to see [Slick] Rick because of the movie," says rap impresario Russell Simmons on his way to Riker's Island), Robbins also manages the nearly impossible: making rap acts, notoriously dull onstage, seem exciting in a concert setting. The music/interview format is shopworn and Robbins too often cuts away in the middle of songs, but for rap fans "The Show" is a must-see.    Starring Russell Simmons, Slick Rick and Run-DMC. Directed by Brian Robbins. Produced by Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins. A Savoy release. Documentary. Rated R for pervasive strong language and some drug content. Running time: 110 min.
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