This year marked the 20th Anniversary of the 1992 L.A. Riots aka The Rodney King Riots. In remembrance of the infamous tragedy, Vh1 released a documentary entitled Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots. Though it comes off like Vh1 just threw some old footage together the week before the anniversary and went cheap on the editing, it does provide the basics. It is hard to understand the basic message of this poorly communicated documentary, but it shows how Hip-Hop reflected the environment of South Central; think Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” and Ice Cube’s “The Predator” and specific hits like “Black Korea” and “Wicked”.
Narrated by Snoop Dogg, with commentary from possibly every relevant early 90’s West Coast rapper, the documentary does succeed at showing how their hip-hop was born out of frustration and some of the lyrical gems we have from that period are stories documenting all of the events of 1992’s riots (pre-riots/during/post-riots).
Of the most interesting opinions captured, I found Ice Cube’s take on the riots quite interesting. When referring to the governments’ displeasure with the riots, he posed that the American government uses violence (war) to solve their problems and they’re justified, but when black people do the same they are not. Another person on tape said that people kept on asking why black people would destroy their own neighborhoods/properties, many called them stupid and ignorant for not properly focusing their anger and irrationally taking it out on their own communities. His reply? How can we destroy what isn’t ours?
Altogether, there are some strong images and opinions in this documentary. You can dissect it and subtract some interesting parts for discussion because there are some points that provoke your thinking. But as a whole piece, Vh1 dropped the ball on making this into what it had the potential to be, an informational in-depth piece.
For more on the Vh1 Rock Doc: http://www.vh1.com/video/shows/full-episodes/uprising-hip-hop-and-the-la-riots/1684192/playlist.jhtml?xrs=share_copy