Background information
Rap, Race & Equality is the personal vision of Australian twin brothers, Stephen & Grant Elliott.

Rap, Race & Equality was made in order to give people a greater insight into racial inequality and highlights how rap music artists as a collective group are seeking to achieve social change.

“We wanted to open up discussion and create dialogue about race relations and cultural identity that was both intelligent and provocative, while at the same time being able to entertain and inform a general audience.” (Grant Elliott)

“The idea for the film was conceived in mid 1991, while at University. We were handed a tape of the rap music Artist KRS ONE and were inspired by the intelligence and articulation of political issues in his music. We undertook 6 months of research before heading off to the States to make the film.” (Stephen Elliott)

Steve and Grant were based in New York for 4 months. In this time they made thousands of calls to Managers, Publicists and Record Companies in order to obtain interviews with the key players in the rap/hip hop music scene.

Unlike large documentary productions, such as the BBC who have large budgets and 30-40 people associated with them, Rap, Race & Equality’s realisation has largely been brought about by 2 people. Stephen & Grant Elliott were involved in all areas of production and direction including research, interviews, filming, editing and the extremely difficult task of music licensing for a program.

Stephen & Grant took many dangerous risks in order to make this film. They took video equipment into areas such as South Central Los Angeles, the South Bronx and East Harlem in New York City. Due to the meagre budget Stephen & Grant were forced to live in rundown sublets on the lower east side of New York City. On many occasions drug dealers mistook them for undercover policeman.

On arriving to interview Ice T & Ice Cube in Atlanta, Stephen and Grant’s money had run out. They slept in their car in sub zero temperatures, turning on the engine every half hour to stay warm.

I believe that this powerful film, made by 2 young filmmakers provides a greater understanding of race issues through the focus of rap music. The quality of the research and the unique way in which Stephen & Grant have put this film together enables it to resonate for a wise cross section of people. Furthermore, the issues raised in this film are global issues and are at the forefront of political and cultural debate in the 90s.

The program's introduction establishes that rap music has become a powerful political voice for African Americans and that it's messages threaten mainstream America. An example of the music from the popular rap band, "Naughty By Nature", leads into a general discussion on rap's emergence, highlighting the music's African oral traditions and its context within today's fast-paced world. This area identifies rap music as a critical force in popular culture and argues that the music's storytelling generates meaning, history and identity for African Americans.

The audience are able to gain a greater insight into the rap artists featured in this film by a "Personal" section which presents their perspective on the music's significance. The film presents a series of responses to the music's meaning from people on the streets throughout the U.S. (vox populi), plus an entertaining and vibrant "freestyle rap" from the streets of New York.

Executive Producer Ewan Burnett

Distributor Burberry Productions

Press Clippings
Rolling Stone, February 1997
'Impressively stretching their limited resources to the absolute limit, the Elliott brothers’ 50 minute video essay about the politic of rap cuts a thoughtful path through a cultural maze with the help of rappers (including Ice T and Ice Cube), academics and journalists.’

Melbourne International Film Festival Magazine, 1994
'Rap, Race & Equality goes way beyond simply discussing music form; rather, as the title suggests, it’s an up-to-the-minute mosaic exposing the hopes, frustrations, negativity and needs of back America.’

Purchase Online The film can be purchased as a DVD or by Download from the Filmakers Library. For any queries call (212) 808 4980.

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