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The Art of Love and Struggle cover photo

The Art of Love and Struggle 2006

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Third World Newsreel, 545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212-947-9277
Produced by Jessica Habie
Directed by Jessica Habie
DVD, color, 88 min.

College - Adult
Multicultural Studies, Music, Poetry, Popular Culture, Urban Studies, Women's Studies

Date Entered: 09/09/2009

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Recognized as a musical and dance style, hip hop is also a cultural way of life for numerous artists and performers. Beginning in New York City more than 30 years ago as an underground movement among inner city youth, hip hop has widely influenced popular culture in the United States and globally. Frequently typified by primarily male-dominated graffiti art, rap music, break dancing, and slam poetry, women have not quickly or easily found a place in the culture. Despite identifying with the voice of independence, empowerment and social justice hip hop provides, women artists are largely invisible to wider audiences. This documentary film by New York filmmaker Jessica Habie provides a format for 14 women to tell their personal stories about the obstacles and struggles to be acknowledged and accepted as hip hop artists.

Featuring editor Raqiyah Mays, poets Amanda Diva, Helena D. Lewis and Claudia Alick, journalist Elizabeth Mendez Berry, recording artist Toni Blackman, emcee Nemesis, singer Denise De La Cruz, performance artist Vista, playwright and poet Kyana Brindle, and activist Rosa Clemente, the stories are narrated by New York artist Smokifantastic. The personal diaries and extended interviews with these women are fascinating; especially interesting are the conversations with activist Rosa Clemente and American Cultural Specialist Toni Blackman. The film itself is somewhat disjointed. A short segment on careers and jobs does not seem to fit with the rest of the film; some of the women have tarot cards read for them, others do not. Despite these shortcomings, listening to these voices and seeing the work of these women provides a new perspective and awareness about what’s going on in this influential culture.