When the rapper Nas proclaimed 16 years in the past that hip-hop was lifeless — specifically, by titling an album “Hip-Hop Is Lifeless” — it was an announcement laced with self-aware irony: This was a hip-hop document, in spite of everything.
As he at all times made clear, his title wasn’t the predictable gripe of an mental vanguard (“Portray is lifeless,” “God is lifeless,” and so forth.) however a name to motion — a response to hip-hop’s co-option by company pursuits. It’s laborious to think about his evaluation has improved. But when the French Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch’s exuberant new movie, “Casablanca Beats,” is any indication, maybe one want solely look exterior the US for a reminder of the style’s authentic energy to create political change.
Filmed in a hand-held, naturalistic fashion, “Casablanca” feels typically like a documentary — till it spontaneously bursts into lyrics or dance, like “Fame” with out the leotards, “Dancer within the Darkish” with out the contempt. The story is acquainted, set in a tricky neighborhood the place Anas (Anas Basbousi), a former rapper, arrives to show hip-hop at a group arts heart.
Additionally it is, as his troubled teenage college students are all too conscious, a spot that has traditionally produced suicide bombers. Hemmed in by joblessness, spiritual conservatism and captious expectations, the scholars are seduced by the satan’s music.
Anas teaches class by day, sleeps in his automobile at night time. Of his previous, we all know little. However when he tells his college students that hip-hop is about talking reality to energy, not bling and petty beefs, it’s clear that he walks his personal discuss. We’ll forgive him and his college students, flush with the fun and indignations of youth, for the occasional maudlin speech — and Ayouch for the attendant schmaltz. Hip-hop isn’t lifeless, the movie energetically insists; it’s simply been hiding in a Moroccan slum.
Not rated. In Arabic, with subtitles. Working time: 1 hour 41 minutes. In theaters.