Daily News header

Brave New Voices TV Review

By     get stories by email

Russell Simmons Hits the Road for HBO in Search of Talented Teenage Poets


When I was coming of age back in the day, most of us who were musically-inclined tended to have an interest in either jazz or R&B. But the current generation of such aspiring artists have been profoundly influenced by the idiom known as hip-hop, so they care more about the spoken form than singing.

If you're an old school fuddy-duddy like me, you probably worry about the toll the mind-crippling mixture of misogyny, materialism and macho bravado popularized by MTV and BET might be taking on impressionable young minds. For, while we might be wise enough to know not to mimic the assortment of self-destructive behaviors promoted by millionaire entertainers posing as ghetto gangstas in hedonistic music videos and on equally-decadent reality shows, it is reasonable to fear for the future of kids who weaned on such silly folderol.

Brave New Voices

It is therefore with a sigh of relief I am happy to report about the first few episodes of Russell Simmons Presents: Brave New Voices. Narrated by Queen Latifah, the HBO series chronicles a 45-city search for the best poetry slam performers in the country. And what they found was a potpourri of talented up- and-coming teenagers capable of baring their souls while spinning a lyrical line on stage.

Because rap originally emanated from the inner city and ostensibly inspired the ensuing rise of slams, I fully expected the competition to be dominated by youth residing in the ghetto. But no, it is apparent that this brash brand of expression has gone mainstream, permeating not only lily white neighborhoods in the cities but also reaching the suburbs and rural areas as well.

new

Consequently, the impassioned young voices heard rapping here reflect the concerns of a rainbow of ethnic groups: blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, even Hawaiians and Native Americans.

As fascinating as their diversity, however, is the intimate nature of the subject matter touched upon in their mesmerizing rhymes. The poems reveal individuals grappling with personal struggles ranging from typical teen issues like sexual harassment and dating to questions of survival such as Sickle Cell Anemia and Cerebral Palsy.

So, don't short-change yourself by passing on this surprisingly-sophisticated documentary by thinking that the strident, staccato form of expression profiled is just about booty calls and drive-bys.

Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 30 minutes per episode
Studio: HBO

Brave New Voices airs at 11 PM (ET/PT) on HBO on Sundays, starting April 5th (Check local listings)

Trailer for Brave New Voices

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Read more Kam Williams stories. Contact him through NewsBlaze.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Here are the must see and top Ten DVD releases for this week, including The Equalizer with Denzel Washington, This Is Where I Leave You, and Finding Your Roots.
Kam Williams gives mini-reviews of movies opening December 12, 2014, including Exodus: Gods and Kings, Inherent Vice, and Chris Rock in Top Five.
Ben Crump's considerable acumen as both a litigator and an advocate has ensured that those most frequently marginalized are protected by the nation's contract with its constituency.
A perilous, 1,100 mile journey proves to be a woman's salvation, giving her chance to conquer and battle the demons within herself.
They came together in 2004 to form the first women critics' organization in the United States, in the belief that women's perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. And WFCC is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
President Obama weighed in after the grand jury decisions not to indict officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month


Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

landing page ad

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site