We didn’t set out to make history, it just happened, rapper Jay-Z says in an original documentary of life on a hip-hop tour. Backstage (R), hip hop’s film of the summer directed by Chris Fiore, gives a raw look at the 1999 Ruff Ryders/Hard Knock Life tour and the lives of some of hip hop’s biggest names. Featuring Jay-Z of Roc-a-Fella, DMX of Ruff Ryders and Redman and Method Man of Def Jam, this documentary features not only live on-stage performances, but behind-the-scenes coverage of life on the road, at after parties, in hotel rooms and on the tour bus – all uncut and uncensored. Backstage gives the audience an inside look through the perspectives of the actual artists.
Each artist on the tour provides a cameo and interview for the movie, as well as opinions of each other. Jay-Z and DMX provide us with freestyles, dice games and a brief look into their roots in the hip-hop game. Beenie Siegel tells it like it is, giving honest, but disheartening advice to those looking to break into the music industry.
Damon Dash, CEO of Roc-a-Fella Records, reveals his view of the music industry from a business perspective, discussing label disputes and keys to DJ Clue’s success. Redman and Method Man provide the comic relief of the movie, entertaining the audience with humor and behavior typical of their personalities.
The audience also gets to see the exhausting hours spent to make the tour what it is. The artists get little sleep and spend the majority of their time on a set schedule – from traveling, to hotel check-ins, to the actual show and time spent backstage and, finally, appearances. These artists get little rest and sometimes none at all due to a full agenda. The tour puts all the artists in such close quarters that they consider themselves family.
Backstage is a movie for hip-hop enthusiasts. If you do not know much about the hip-hop scene, this film may not be for you because it is geared to those who may have a bit more knowledge of hip-hop culture. If you go out of curiosity of what goes on backstage, be aware that the movie is filled with a few glimpses of semi-nude women, nonstop blunt-smoking and Crystal-sipping artists.
Unfortunately, this 87-minute film may feel like three hours. The audience does get to see what really goes on backstage, but the movie leaves them wanting more. Although this film might be seen as some sort of gangsta-rapper flick, this is hardly the case. Instead, Backstage does go behind-the-scenes to show what it is really like to be on a hip-hop tour.