Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Kazi is a bundle of energy, and the film touches on an important and often-overlooked issue: The commercial pressure that is often brought to bear on rappers to be scurrilous and offensive. This project, which was produced by Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah, shows that there is another way.
  2. Giving "inspirational" a good name, Matt Ruskin's vibrant and soulful documentary The Hip Hop Project sets its universal message to an inner-city beat.
  3. The film works best when it pays specific attention to how hard it is to write a rhyme worth hearing.
  4. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    75
    Art makes the difference for the few kids who make it, and it also makes the difference for the films that stand out from the pack. The Hip Hop Project, a documentary by Matt Ruskin, is one of them.
  5. 75
    The story is compelling enough that even glib phrases like "healing through hip-hop" can't drag it down.
  6. 75
    Project provides an unmistakably one-sided view of rap as God's gift to the poor, angry, black, and young, but given the beating rap has taken in the press lately (please Oprah, don't hurt 'em!), the film's pro-rap cheerleading couldn't be more timely or necessary.
  7. Reviewed by: Jessica Grose
    70
    From domestic strife to studio triumph, the most impressive accomplishment of Project is not the student-made album, but that when Kazi says cheesy things like "This is healing through hip-hop," you actually believe him.
  8. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    70
    Perhaps the film's biggest failing is simply that the music of The Hip Hop Project isn't more thrilling, that there isn't a sonic equivalent to the wounded, searching feelings of the young writers' lyrics.
  9. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    70
    A beat-driven, inspirational organism that develops and blossoms along with its subjects, "Word.Life" tells the story of a once-homeless Brooklynite who prods, pushes and propels his aspiring young rappers to think first and rhyme later.
  10. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    70
    In a nation that's stripped arts instruction from the public schools, the Hip Hop Project seems like a godsend.
  11. Although it often feels more like a promotional tool than an objective documentary, there is no denying the emotional resonance propelling Matt Ruskin's first feature.
  12. The Hip Hop Project, a documentary about Kazi and the young men and women he mentors, isn't quite as successful as Kazi himself - a Bahamian orphan and teenage street hustler who turned his life around, and got folks like Queen Latifah, Russell Simmons and Bruce Willis to help out him and his project.
  13. While their stories are well worth telling, first-time director Ruskin fails to shape his material into the dynamic film it might have been.
  14. 58
    As a documentary, the film is woefully underdeveloped.
  15. 50
    IF you like rap, you'll probably enjoy The Hip Hop Project. I don't like rap.
  16. Reviewed by: Michelle Kung
    50
    And while the young director tends to skip over many of the larger societal issues plaguing many of the HHP participants, his desire to honestly platform the emotional heartbeat of his subjects still rings true.
  17. 50
    Ultimately, The Hip Hop Project is all raggedy rhythm and long-winded discourse, a tuneless song in search of a hook.

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